Life with thatgirlcarmel: May 2016

Life with thatgirlcarmel: May 2016

Lately, I feel like I’ve been living a double life. By day, I work my corporate 9 to 5, and after work and on the weekends, I’m on my entrepreneurial grind. More and more, I’m beginning to feel a bit worn out and as if I’m running on empty, and I’m not sure how much longer I can keep going at this pace.

But contrary to what I just said, I feel like May moved at a much slower and more manageable pace than previous months this year. Still, I find myself yearning for more time to do the things I really love as I pursue my freedom. You know…things like reading more books, writing religiously, sticking to a consistent workout schedule, samba, and spending more quality time with Jave just to name a few. Overall, I need to do a better job of finding more balance in my life, and not neglect doing the things I love as I pursue my goals. Can you relate?

Anyway, here’s what happened in May…

Bathroom disaster

Jave and I are long overdue for a bathroom remodel. As much as I love a posh bathroom when I travel, you’d think that our bathroom at home is on point. But it’s not. Since we want a comfortable new bathroom for our own bathing enjoyment, and because we plan on renting our place out by the end of the year, after consulting with several contractors, a few months ago we also consulted with Home Depot about remodeling our bathroom. They provided us with a (somewhat) reasonable quote for work for which they offer a lifetime warranty. But in order for the warranty to be effective, they have to essentially gut our bathroom and start from scratch. Since it’s such a huge expense, we decided to hold off on the project until this fall.

But after showering a few weeks ago, we realized that our tub wasn’t properly draining. So our maintenance guy came over and told us that we need some new pipes that would cost us about $500. Knowing that whatever pipes he installed would eventually be ripped out by Home Depot later this fall, we decided to move our bathroom remodel plans up. As you can imagine, it’s not an expense that we were mentally or emotionally ready to deal with right now. But we’ve since figured that this whole fiasco is a blessing in disguise, and it’s just the motivation we needed to stop procrastinating and finally get our place in shape so that we can move on.


So the deposit has been paid, measurements have been taken, and now we’re in a 6-8 week holding pattern as permits get pulled, materials are ordered, etc. But within the next few months, we’ll be enjoying our brand spanking new bathroom, and I have to say, I’m very excited about it!

South Coast Winery for Mother’s Day


Trying to figure out what to do for my mom for Mother’s Day is always a struggle because my mom is very bougie particular. I’m also very particular, and if there’s one thing I really can’t stand, it’s repeat experiences.

Wanting to do something that my mom and I haven’t ever done together, Jave and I decided to take her out to the South Coast Winery in Temecula for a tasting and lunch. And of course my dad was invited. He and Jave kept talking about the fact that a similar fuss isn’t made for fathers on Father’s Day. But whenever I ask my dad what he wants for birthdays, holidays, Father’s Day, etc., I always get the same response: a pair of brown socks and a box of pecans from Renfroe’s (his pecan company of choice in his hometown in Florida). I don’t know how many more brown socks and pecans I can buy for him!

Anyway, back to my mom. We had a great day tasting some of the best wines I’ve ever enjoyed at a wine tasting before. My parents returned home with a box of a dozen new wines while Jave and I bought two. I don’t know exactly when my parents became cool to hang out with, but Jave and I always have a good time in their company.

Closed second escrow


I recently had the pleasure of working with my dream clients. I met them at an open house one weekend, and a week later, we were in escrow. Although the seller was difficult and demanding, my clients were so patient and accommodating and just such a breeze to work with. If only all clients could be like them!

So far, selling real estate is proving to be quite a lucrative side hustle, and I’m looking forward to keeping this closing streak going!


After two failed pitches, I was ecstatic to get an email from Arianna Huffington welcoming me to contribute to the Huffington Post’s contributor’s platform. My story about getting lost in a Colombian jungle seemed to do the trick. Getting published on HuffPost was my writing goal for this year, and now that I’ve accomplished that, I have my sights set on my absolute favorite travel magazine, which means that it’s time to get busy with more pitches.

Outsourcing my life

Because I’m a bargain grocery shopper, I always find myself shopping at three different markets to cut costs. Yes, three. But given my increasingly busy schedule, don’t nobody got time for that anymore! So earlier this month, I tried Instacart, and I fell head over heels in love with the service. If you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out…I’m telling you!

Apart from being too busy to grocery shop, another reason I decided to try Instacart was because I was looking for a market where I can buy organic meats (I’m slowly but surely switching to an organic diet), and I didn’t want to have to add another grocery store to my usual lineup. So I gave Instacart a try, and I was pleasantly surprised when I got a text message saying that Ralph – my personal shopper – was at Whole Foods shopping for my list. And then I was even more pleasantly surprised when I got a text message saying that he couldn’t find the particular brand of tahini I was looking for and asking whether I wanted to replace it with a different brand. To know that I had someone walking up and down the grocery aisles doing my dirty work felt downright empowering! And when my groceries were delivered to my door, I literally felt like a great weight had been lifted.

So I recently used Instacart again, and I also added Vons’ delivery service and Amazon Prime Now to the mix. All-in-all, I had three grocery deliveries and our total bill came out to about what I’d pay if I’d gone into the store myself. From now on, I’ll be grocery shopping from the comfort of my home. I’m also thinking about all of my other annoying chores I can outsource.

To give Instacart a try and get $10 off your first order, click here.

Upcoming travel

It’s officially Jave’s birthday month which means I’m officially counting down to his bday getaway later this month. It was supposed to be a surprise, but last weekend I broke down and told him where we’re going…I just couldn’t keep it a secret any longer.

And since his bday getaway will be so short (only two nights!), I went ahead and booked another getaway for the week of my birthday in late July. I’m really looking forward to both! I really, REALLY need a vacation!

May Travel Deals – Time Card Express®


If you’re headed to Brazil, be sure to spend a few days in Paraty, a small colonial town on the Bay of Ilha Grande that became a hub port for exporting gold from the region to Rio nearby before being loaded onto Portugal-bound ships. And while you’re there, be sure to book a half day kayaking adventure with Paraty Explorer. On the water, you’ll get an up close view of rainforests that meet the ocean and many of the islands that dot the bay. Plus, you’ll get the chance to swim, snorkel, and see wildlife in the mangroves. Click here to get this deal.


Coqui del Mar Guest House is conveniently located just a block away from Ocean Park Beach, a haven for kite and wind surfers. Nearby, you’ll also find restaurants, a grocery store, and more. Named after Puerto Rico’s beloved coqui frog that “beckons” nonstop, Coqui del Mar Guest House is inviting Time Card Express® members who book 5 nights in one of its apartments, to spend the 6th night free, or get 10% off stays of 3 nights or more. Click here to book your Puerto Rican escape!


Whether you’re dreaming of horseback riding on the beach, zip lining through the forest, rappelling down a 45-meter waterfall or living out your jungle fantasies on a Trarzan Swing, ‘Da Flying Frog Adventures has just what you need to get your adrenaline pumping! And the best part is that they’re offering members of Time Card Express® 10% off any activity. Click here to get your discount!


If you’re into offbeat, one of a kind properties, then look no further and stay in a villa whose architecture is inspired by a swan. Set in beautiful Placencia, Belize, a former fishing village that’s now popular with tourists who want to escape from it all while enjoying water sports and whale shark watching, Swan Villas is a luxe, lagoon-front property just steps from the beach and close to Placencia Village. As a member of Time Card Express®, when you book a 2-night stay in one of the villa’s units, you’ll get a free tour to the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. Book your swan stay by clicking here!

If you love saving money on travel as much as I do, then join Time Card Express® – it’s free! – and get discounted travel deals straight to your inbox!


Tell me…how was your May?

  • Kemkem

    Congrats on the great month and on closing escrow. Real estate is definitely my favorite hobby..was anyway. I found every house l ever had myself, not to mention finding houses for friends too. The agents loved me as they got the commission for doing less :-). I just loved it..and imagine this was before computers when you only had those gigantic MLS books 🙂

    • Wow…they had MLS books?! Lol! Thank God for technology. Did you ever think about getting your license? If you were mainly buying properties, I guess it didn’t matter since you weren’t paying the commission anyway. My mom calls me “The Reluctant Realtor” because I’ve been licensed for so long but have only recently really started using it. And still, this is a means to an end (i.e., the end of my 9 to 5). Jave and I would love to eventually get into the flipping game, but we still have lots to learn first.

  • What a month recap and you are a busy girl. Dont run yourself too into the ground, I know corporate life is stability but the way you move around I pray you can venture in a career that is more flexible of your time…when you are able of course. Congrats on your many accomplishments.

    • Thanks so much, Kiwi! Yes, I’m definitely going to get my freedom from the 9 to 5…it’s not the life for me. I’m taking your advice and trying to slow things down a bit this month. 🙂 Hope you have a great June!

  • Valerie Robinson

    You are on the move! My kitchen needs updating and not looking forward to the process.I can honestly say that May was good to me. Enjoy your Summer!

    • Thanks, Valerie – you too! Glad you had a great May, and I hope you get around to your kitchen remodel soon.

  • You are doing a lot! All sounds awesome! Congrats on huffpost. Also does have not read the blog? I sure hope not or the cats gonna be outta the bag! 🐱

  • foodfashionandflow

    Sounds like last month was super hectic for you. My May was busy too. I’m hoping June will be a productive month too.

  • My May was a really busy one for me. Like you I suck at surprising Babe, I always end up telling him or forcing him to accept an early gift.

    • Lol – I don’t blame you. I’m horrible at surprises!

  • Deidre Harris McMillan

    Your May was SuperFab but mine was a little less than impressive!

  • Wow you have a lot going on. We have to remodel our bathroom as well. It’s stuck in the 1930 with black and light yellow tile, tub, sink and toilet. Yeah, it has to go.

    • Your bathroom still doesn’t sound as bad as ours. Ours is hideous – built in the ’70s – brown on brown on brown! :-/

  • You have had a very busy month! May was great for me. Kids are out of school and summer is practically here. Have fun on your getaway!

    • Thanks, Stacie. I hope you and the kids have some summertime fun in store!

  • Dude Mom

    Man, May was busy for you! We just got back from Disney and I swear I am still catching up to real life. My mom tried to be a realtor for like 6 months, I don’t think she’s about that hustle.

  • Oh my gosh, you’ve been one busy bee. Congrats on all the great things that’s happening your way. I would love to have a good side hustle like real estate. I worked as a mortgage originator and I didn’t last long because commission only wasn’t my thing. Now as a side hustle, I can dig it.

    • Yeah, it’s a hustle. But eventually I’d like to use it as a way to leave my 9 to 5 for good. Thanks for the well wishes!

  • Eva

    Looks like you had a super busy month! I used to be a real estate agent and I know how having a client who actually follows through can feel. Congratulations!


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