No Tree for Me

I love Christmas. I love the reason, the music, the spirit, the joy of gift giving (it’s my top love language)…I love it all! With that being said, I can be a Scrooge at times. My resourcefulness tends to deter me from going too far into seasonal decor or frivolous gifts.

When we got married, we had our first Christmas after two months of marriage. We talked about starting our own Christmas traditions and we decided on curating our Christmas ornaments. I didn’t want to go to the store and buy a preselected assortment of ornaments – we wanted our tree to reflect us and the year we just experienced.

2015 – Steven’s sweet cousin, Sarah, got us a wooden ornament with our names & wedding date embossed into it. We purchased a globe ornament and circled the Philippines to commemorate our honeymoon and first international trip together.

2016 – That year I learned calligraphy and made personalized ornaments for me, Steven and Amber.

2017 – The big move to Texas. We got a Texas shaped ornament that says “y’all” and another wooden ornament from the Christmas at the Silo’s concert.

My mom added to that tradition and has been getting us the Pottery Barn dated frame ornament as another way to highlight a moment from the year.

We’re currently in a 990 sq ft temporary dwelling that is furnished with more than we will ever use and there just isn’t much space for a Christmas tree. We’re going home for Christmas so it didn’t seem practical to buy a tree that we’d only enjoy for a few weeks (see that Scrooge-ness coming in?). Thankfully, Trader Joe’s sells these mini potted trees that can hold this year’s ornaments!


In just three years, we have a box full of ornaments that mean so much to us. I cannot wait for our kids to add to the tree and see what it’ll look like 10-20 years from now!

What type of holiday traditions do you participate in?

With love and warmth and just a teency bit of Scrooge-ness,


PS: And just so y’all know we are living in bizarro land…it was 80+ deg a few days before coming out of work to find my car like this:


Everyone just keeps telling me, “That’s Texas for ya!”


A Texan Thanksgiving

A Texan Thanksgiving

I’ve been very blessed with a work schedule that allows for every Friday off. Typically goes like this:

  • Sleep in (8 a.m.)
  • Go workout
  • Walk Amber
  • Clean the house
  • Catch up with a loved one (Dona my first Friday and my Daddy this past Friday)
  • Run some errands

…all before Steven gets home. By Saturday, I’m already feeling at a loss of things to do and always ask Steven, “So what are we doing today?!”. Poor guy works 6 of the 7 days so he certainly does not share the same enthusiasm (but he’s a trooper so he goes along with whatever I come up with).

It was the most beautiful day. The clouds were gone and the sun was beaming down! So we took Amber for a hike through yet another river (I swear we have a completely different dog in Texas) and tried to soak in the sun all morning.

My co-worker/boss, Brittney, texted me asking what we were up to for the day and asked if we wanted to hang out. She starts telling me of all these free events happening around town. Tiny homes + free tacos. Jazz music + free BBQ. We decided to go for it all and have  an afternoon filled with as much free food as we could get our hands on. Our first stop: Lockhart. 20+ miles out of Austin. We get there — no tacos. Just tiny homes and chips. We get our fill, hop back in the car and head back into town to get that free BBQ. We roll in, Steven & Britt go to use the restroom, I make small chat with these two guys who said the BBQ was gone within the first hour of the event and realize we are 0-2. Austin has so many cool events and happenin’s and yet we kept missing each one by a SMIDGE! We decided to cut our losses and go find food that would definitely be available … a restaurant. Britt asks us, “Do y’all like Mexican food?” We pretty much laughed and explained that CA is basically Mexico when it comes to food. She took us to her favorite place, Matt’s El Rancho, where the server asked if we’d like a “bob” to start. Looking absolutely dumbfounded, she explains that it’s basically guac, ground beef and melted cheese. That’s all we needed to hear before we said, “heck yeah!” It did not disappoint! The night went on for hours as we laughed, continued eating and quickly realizing Britt & I were kindred spirits. Steven later told her husband that he hung out with two of me all day. What a lucky guy!

Britt & Grant invited us to their Friendsgiving the following night and I wasn’t sure if Steven would be down for it but he happily agreed. We have two friends here (the Popes who came from Redlands) so we were definitely in need of expanding our friend base. Never have I realized how Californian I was until tonight. With each person who arrived, there was another meat, sausage, queso that I had never seen before. And what did I bring? Spinach (spanakopita). I clearly did not know my audience but they all liked it!

There was “swamp sausage” (basically cajun style rice mixed into the sausage), steak, BBQ chicken, another something sausage with cheese and jalapeños, risotto, green bean casserole, fried turkey that was caught the day prior by the dude who brought it. Oh my goodness – it was amazing. It was like popcorn chicken but with the freshest turkey you’d ever tasted. The Martin’s were amazing hosts and we were so grateful to be included! Back at home, we’d do Friendsgiving every year and I did my best to fight off feelings of loneliness and distance this time around so I was really touched to be in the company of friends — even if there weren’t ours!

Steven and I talked about our first Texan Thanksgiving the whole way home. We would never have known any of this if it weren’t for Britt and absolutely soaked in every second of it! Steven’s ready to go huntin’ with the boys and I…I’m still holding out for some freshly caught fish!

Taking the CA out of the Catalons

It’s official, y’all! The Catalon’s are no longer Californians. I can use the word “official”  because as of 7:30 p.m. CST last night, Amber arrived and made our home complete.

Our Dodger Blue home

I’ve been eager to write this post because that will have meant a) we finally made it to Texas and b) I’m done packing and unpacking.

But let me tell you, it was quite the roller coaster to get to this momentous point:

I’ve moved countless times – mostly westbound along the 210 with my mom growing up – but some pretty big moves too, including Napa Valley for college and around the world to Florence, Italy. I considered myself a Master Packer (I think there’s a Filipino joke there but I’m too white to remember exactly what it is…) and figured this move wouldn’t be much more difficult. Steven has moved twice. Numerous times in and out of his dorm room at PUC and then to his own place in Loma Linda (until I kicked him out so Kathryn and I could turn it into a basic girl’s dream – fiddle leaf plant included).

Figured it’d be no biggie. We decided on a fully-furnished, all utilities included, short-term rental house to alleviate the stress of moving furniture and getting everything set up while we begin our quest for our first home purchase (that’s going to be another blog post later…). Steven’s work asked him to start on October 16 so the plan was to quit my job October 12 and head east shortly after. Three days after announcing my plan to my boss, Kelly, I realized I was so.not.ready to move. Work was crazy busy. House wasn’t even close to being packed up. And emotionally, I hadn’t even processed what this move would mean. I quickly texted Steven and asked how he felt about going ahead of me (and Amber) and we’d meet him at the end of the month. Being the trooper that he is, he agreed because he knew I needed the time and he couldn’t postpone work any longer (they had already extended his start date to accommodate our Italy trip in September). Turn of events instance #1.

When Steven left for Austin, I had no distractions (minus MLB Postseason … RIP Dodgers 2016-2017 season) and figured I could knock it out in no time. Upon surveying the contents of our quaint 1,005 sq ft home, I quickly became astonished by how much we’d accumulated in two years. I grabbed my phone and texted my mom, who was planning on visiting the following weekend, if she’d be game to help me with a yard sale. She replied “Yes!” and it was settled – I’d be running my very first yard sale! Turn of events instance #2. Those days leading up to it were wholly consumed by the yard sale – inventorying, categorizing, pricing and prepping. When it was all said and done, I had close to 75 people rummage through my prized possessions, three personal home-shopping visits, numerous OfferUp meet ups, 12 hours of sleep in three days (I kid you not) and added $1,300 to our checking account. It was a great outcome but I was doggone tired after. I had zero energy to pack what was left of the house and couldn’t even figure out where to start. And by that time, it was T-minus six days to get everything done! My work BFF, Ally, must’ve sensed I was internally panicking and came over that week and helped me pack 80% of the house. I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without her (other than torch the house to the ground and peaced out).

Now, it’s Sunday — T-minus one day. House is packed. Boxes were ready to be loaded in our car. Let’s do this. Steven’s parents arrive to help us load up the Subaru and they casually mention they’re going to Game 6 of the World Series with Stacy and her boyfriend on Tuesday (mind you, Game 5 hadn’t occurred yet so we were all anticipating Game 6 to be the final game for the Dodgers to bring home the coveted championship…where are all the sobbing emojis?!).  Steven looks to me and sees the jealousy spewing from my face. His dad lightheartedly says, “Stay for the game! Steven doesn’t have to be at work until 3 p.m. on Wednesday … you guys can just fly to Austin!” [Checks Southwest — 6 a.m. flight out of LAX Wednesday morning]
But what about our car? “Mom and I will drive the car on Friday!”
What about Amber? “She can ride with us!”
How are we going to get tickets?! “Ate hasn’t bought them yet … [proceeds to call Steven’s sister and she just hits the + sign to increase the number of tickets from 4 to 6 and says, “DONE”].”
I GUESS WE’RE STAYING A COUPLE MORE DAYS! Turn of events instance #3.

Last time in our first Catalon Casa. Please excuse Steven’s attire — he decided to wear every piece of Dodger paraphernalia that he owned for the game.

We quickly unload the car, transfer as much as we can into four suitcases (thanks for the free checked bags, Southwest!), fill the new space with more stuff that would’ve been in the garage and soak in the fact that we were going to go to our very first World Series game! The Dodgers gave us the best sporting experience of our lives and the perfect final night in California with our family. We were all so pumped after the win, no one could possibly feel sad as we said our goodbyes.

My in-laws and Amber hit the road Friday afternoon and had an adventure of their own to get here. I still can’t believe they willingly offered to do the trek instead of us but we are unbelievably grateful. Amber was a perfect passenger and even got her own bed in the hotel.

Girlfriend is taking full advantage of being the closest thing to a grandchild.

I can’t believe we’re actually here but I couldn’t be more certain that God had His hand over every twist and turn to get us here. Prayers and visits are always welcome. We’re loving getting to know our new city and I can’t wait to share more about why we decided to call this place our home!