California Sabbatical, and Budget {but fancy} Tuna Pickle Bites

I know, tuna is not so impressive. I’ve posted about fancy tuna before, and it really is something I probably overuse at times and underuse at others. I’ll be honest, I despise thinking about money (Leos hate to budget)…but I handed over a cashier’s check for almost $5000 yesterday for my new apartment lease…I’ll fill you in on that in a minute…so, all of a sudden, my Whole Foods grocery list went from crab and sea bass to tuna and eggs…

I can’t promise that I’m going to be a good example of how to eat on a budget—I’m not sure I can actually do it, but I’ll be honest about my efforts (or budgetary indiscretions) anyway. Side note: Another thing I did in response to my bank account outpouring was to NOT go out for drinks last night with cousin and friends. At $12 a drink, my non-existent budget could be blown almost instantly.

Anyway, tuna came back into my life, and this is what I did with it…

Fancy Tuna Pickle Bites

1 can tuna (wild line caught, packed in water….Whole Foods 365 brand was $1 cheaper than the kind I usually buy)
a couple Tbsp mayo (any kind, please read the ingredients and I promise you will pay extra to not consume Hellman’s)
a splash of salad dressing (I used creamy garlic caesar—again, please check the ingredients. Good ones are hard to find. Another thing that works amazingly well is an infused olive oil and splash of balsamic—I like herbs de provence oil with apricot or lemon balsamic)
2 dashes of chipotle powder (unless you don’t want any kick)
3-5 dashes of curry powder
3 dashes minced onion
1 dash black pepper
1 to 2 sandwich style pickles (diced–I used Claussen because it was in the fridge)
More pickles cut into “crackers”

Mix everything except the pickle-crackers together. Taste it, and add more stuff according to what you like. Put blobs of fancy tuna on pickle-crackers. That’s it! I thought about garnishing, but I didn’t have anything to garnish with. You could surely make them pretty with paprika or maybe a little bit of diced pickle on top. However, let’s not fool ourselves…these probably won’t be served at a fancy cocktail party! But they taste great, and altogether, it’s pretty cheap to make. Of course you can add other things, like diced tomato, celery, onion, or pepper, or shredded spinach.




There you have it. Salty, crunchy, creamy…have a pb cup for dessert and you’ve covered all of your bases!

Back to the apartment and life update:

I decided to stay in Cali for a year. Before I decided this, I was so scatterbrained—I couldn’t focus on anything at all because I was so stuck on whether or not I’d stay here. The bottom line is that I had to make a geographical commitment in order to move on and focus on things that matter. So I found this fabulous apartment (that I’m determined will not look like a dorm room, even though it’s a studio) in a historical building in Santa Monica…and I signed a 12-month (month-to-month after that) lease. It’s 4 blocks to the beach (and these are small blocks…so out on the sidewalk you can see the “cliff” that leads to the beach), 2 blocks to Whole Foods (which will not be supportive of my budget, I’m sure), 4 blocks to the gym, 1 block to the 3rd street promenade (downtown), and 5 blocks to my cousin’s apartment. That just all means…it’s in the perfect location.

Here’s a look:

Red dot is my apt, blue is my cousin's.
Here's the building---built in 1928, almost destroyed in 1940-something in an earthquake, and thankfully updated recently too (i.e. fab kitchen/bathroom)


Here’s a link to the 360 map view too, in case you’re feeling inclined to see the neighborhood.
You can see the “real life” look at the new apt bldg. There’s a circle in the top left corner of the photo….if you drag the little dot around the circle you can get the 360 view.

I’ll be on the first floor, the courtyard is gated, and there’s a security guard at night… the first question my Dad asked me was if it’s “safe.” I guess after he saw where I lived in Boston he feels the need to ask that question…I don’t blame him on that one!


Here's the gate...see, safe!

No parking…has a pool (that I won’t use, I’m sure, but I’d love to have visitors use it if they want to), onsite laundry (essential at the age of 34), HUGE closet (that I won’t be trying to fill right away). My cousin’s response was, “Great—we’ll get help for you to move!” Then we laughed…because I have three bags here with me and zero furniture.

That said, I’m selling my car, so if you know anyone who wants it…. I would like to get $7500 for it (2004 Honda Accord, standard, black, 103K miles, has been loved and used gently by me since 2006). I’m also selling my living room furniture (the Baldwin couch and chair and a half from Arhaus + awesome coffee table, tv stand, end table)…however, some of that may already be claimed. I have two armoires I’d like to unload, and probably my platform bed. I may hang onto the infrared sauna for now unless someone is dying for it ($700).

I plan to ship my bike, Nelson bench, Eames chair, painting, and Vita-Mix to Cali… unless it’s really unreasonably priced to do so. All of those things are relatively small and light…so if you have any insights on the best way to get stuff across the country, please let me know!

Also if you have ideas for studio apartments (the whole bed-in-living-room thing), please help me!

This whole thing feels pretty serendipitous (I won’t lie, it’s slightly scary and uncertain too, but not that scary), and I’m feeling good about it. I think the best part of yesterday was that I got a cashier’s check for the amount I owed on the apartment, went and signed the lease, did a little dance in the street….and then went back to the cousin’s to do some work. I logged into my bank account to discover that at the exact time I got the cashier’s check, I got paid by a few different employers…and the amount was only different from the cashier’s check by $28. So I totally broke even yesterday (considering I bought tuna and didn’t go out for drinks…)!

I’ll take more of that kind of thing, please.

Next thing…whose coming to visit?!?!?!

Have you had any big-deal things or decisions happen lately?

My new street.... (actually this is a public restroom on the beach, but ...)
Morning view on the beach. Just me, the seagulls, and a few sleeping beach bums...

And coming soon….a review of the stuff I got from Palm Beach Athletic Wear! It’s pretty awesome—I just have to find a time when someone will take pics of me wearing it, which is harder than it sounds when you only have 4 friends, not counting Jill and Matt (the Starbucks Baristas)!

Oh, and I’m calling this my California Sabbatical (named by my Mom) because I’m not concluding anything about where I’ll end up—I’m giving myself a free-for-all year here to just be here and do what feels right. I’m lucky I’ve saved some money (and will hopefully at least sell my car), so I don’t have to make any real life decisions based on finances (the grocery store budgeting part is probably something I should work on anyway).

What do you base your big life decisions on?!

10 thoughts on “California Sabbatical, and Budget {but fancy} Tuna Pickle Bites”

  1. Heather (Where's the Beach)

    I’m on my way! Actually, I’ll be in San Diego next Wed-Sun. I love the building. Gorgeous architecture! how about pinterest for some decor ideas 😉

  2. So, I can come stay with you, right?! I am so incredibly happy for you! I think there are definitely times in your life with closing your eyes and taking a leap are in order. Actually, we did that about a year ago and it was the best decision of our lives. I can’t wait to hear about your adventures! Congrats on the move Lisa! Hugs to you!

  3. Um, I’m NOT kidding. I seriously am going to come to visit – I’ve always wanted to come to Santa Monica to see what it’s all about and if it means seeing you too? All the better in my book! Let’s discuss 😉 PS I can’t wait to try your version of tuna, I LOVE tuna and your flavor combos sound awesome!! The only thing I’d change is swapping in plain greek yogurt for the mayo, so yummy that way and even more of a protein boost too, score!! Happy weekend friend!

  4. cathy@1970kikiproject

    lisa, your apartment IS in the perfect location!! the building is SO cute. huge congrats (again) – and i agree that you NEED a year for your cali sabbatical. way to go!!!
    i have no huge decisions right now…oh, but i am trying to decide on a new car. the ford fiesta in lime green has grabbed my heart!

  5. Congrats on the new home! And I’m impressed with your budget meal, so far 🙂 I think you’ll kick butt at doing the budget food thing. So far, so good. Tuna and pickles are a classic combo. Yum yum.

  6. Jane @ The Healthy Beehive

    Wow congrats, that is huge! I have some big things going on too, but I’m still processing them internally 🙂 In our second place, we have a studio apartment. It really isn’t that bad. Especially when you don’t have furniture! Good luck with everything!

  7. Yay! So glad you’re going to stick around for awhile. You are the perfect California girl: strong, smart and beautiful! I’m also glad that we have more time to schedule a get-together; life has been a little crazy lately but I’m thinking early next year is probably most likely. If you’re ever in Palm Springs or San Luis Obispo, though, do let me know. Otherwise, I promise I’ll get my booty to SM. 🙂

  8. Well that’s a cool public restroom! Lisa, I couldn’t be happier for you! This is amazing. You honestly have really inspired me here because moving to Cali is something I have been dreaming of…it’s why I’m living at home right now with the parents, working in a job I’m not a huge fan of…to save money to live where I want to one day (even if it’s just for a year). You are such a Cali girl, I agree with Carrie. I often get told I’m a Cali girl too! I hope that one day I can really be one. Thanks for giving me a lift and making me know it’s possible!
    ALSO the tuna bites look fab. I don’t care how “boring” tuna is, I love it.

  9. Well, from fellow Cali-Girl to another….. my door is open, and you are welcome to come and visit anytime you want and check out the ‘hood! And, sister, let me tell you…the food and drinks here are out of this world!

    On Fri 28/09/12 11:47 , “Disqus” sent:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *