Strip Mall? Yes, please!


Last summer we moved from the inner city of Portland Oregon to a gated community in the suburbs of Escondido California. Of course we knew it would be an adjustment on many levels, but didn’t think trying to find our kind of “stuff” would be one of them.

Where to shop? Where to eat? It was quite a challenge for us, since we had lived in the heart of the city where we could easily walk or bike to coffee shops, artisan pizza, DIY pottery studios, and organic grocery stores.

It is Portlandia, after all.

But, like I said, we moved.

Walk six blocks for a farm to table gluten free dinner, leash up the dog, grab a cloth grocery bag and head out for some free-range brown eggs?

Not anymore.

Welcome to the land of strip malls. And by the way, you must drive to all of them.

I admit it; I was a strip mall snob. I had assumed everything in a strip mall was a Subway, Payless shoes, or Papa Johns. You know what I mean?

Not so.

Exhibit A, Trader Joes. They have them in strip malls here. I kid you not.

The first time I went with my daughter, who fought the move from day one since we were “ruining her life,” she all but fell to her knees in prayer to Allah Joe the moment we went inside.

“Mom… it’s just like the one back home.”

Since they are all pretty much laid out the same she finally felt comfortable somewhere because it felt so FAMILIAR.

Typically I am a stealth shopper on my weekly TJ’s run, but this time we slowly strolled down every isle while she carefully loaded the cart with her favorite items. Naturally we came home with twice as much usual, including way too many of those oh so good Toblerone bars. Ugh.

(P.S. I needed that reprieve, so I heart you even more now, Trader Joes)

Ok, groceries bought for the week but I don’t want to cook, so where do we find some decent pizza?

I’ll tell you where, in a strip mall!

We found two places we love, both in strip malls. One of them is Killer Pizza from Mars in Escondido and not surprisingly the whole place is decked out in wacky alien chic. They have a great selection of old school arcade games, the people working there are super friendly, and they make a darn good pie.

The other is a local chain called Flippin Pizza with décor straight outta Brooklyn. Brick interior walls, nice old wooden bar, and gluten free you ask? Why yes, don’t mind if I do! They serve it five different ways and all are quite tasty.

Where to go for date night? Our local Strip Mall, of course! We had a wonderful authentic Indian dinner paired with a fabulous Pinot Noir and great ambiance at family owned and operated Curry and More in San Marcos. Delish!

I could go on and on. We have found hidden gems at every turn.

Our new dentist Dr. Miller who we love?              Check

K9 Dog Park daycare for neurotic Dexter?           Check

Family owned tailor/dry cleaner?                          Check

It’s all at the Strip Mall.

We just had to get over ourselves, take a drive, open our eyes, and walk through that tinted glass door.

About JulieRae, she’s a hardworking Realtor/Mom whose mantra is “Yes, but first coffee.”

For help buying, selling, or investing in SD she’s your gal @


Home Alone

Last year I decided to take some time off work because a lot was happening in our family life.

Our son was out of high school with no real plan.

Our daughter would be starting middle school soon.

We decided to move to another state.

Our dog developed anxiety and was put on Prozac.

And my husband launched a business expansion plan.

Suffice it to say it seemed like a good time to be more available for this transitional phase in our world, and it ended up being a wise decision, especially when my husband started traveling every week. Once the kids, dog, and husband settled into their respective grooves it was time for me to get back to work. I got my California Real Estate License, and began working at Windermere SoCal in Carlsbad.

I soon discovered my dog did not “get the memo.” Apparently he had grown accustomed to his charmed life, courtesy of you know who.

Just call me the enabler.

In Dexter’s defense, why wouldn’t he get used to his hour-long morning walks, not to mention thirty minutes in the afternoon and evening. He also quite fancied short rides in the car running errands, truly enjoyed having someone around at all times to freshen up his water bowl, toss him a treat, and randomly scratch his tummy. What’s not to like?

Apparently me going back to work is what’s not to like.

Being extremely agile he soon began jumping up onto the kitchen counters foraging. We stopped leaving out bowls of nuts, baked goods, etc., and thought the fruit basket was safe, but were wrong. He even figured out how to peel an avocado. I’d be impressed if I was not so annoyed. One day I left an egg next to the stove that I had forgotten to boil and he got it off the counter and onto the living room rug. Unbroken. He is a Pug Terrier mix = small mouth. Again, impressive. FullSizeRender (1) Next up? Greenies. Small piles of them, half chewed, all over the house. An entire bag, zip lock un zipped . All over the living and dining room rugs. He must have needed a rest mid purge so he also heaved ho on TWO different beds. Variety is the spice of life, after all.

Then there was his “escapism period.” We moved to Southern California so we could get more sun and enjoy the breezes so naturally we like to leave the windows open, screens on, of course. Sadly the fear of being alone combined with his terrorist ways and sharp little talons soon got the best of him and he shredded not one, (you’d think we’d learn our lesson) but two second story window screens. The first time he went onto the roof and cruised around until our neighbor Ed got out his ladder and rescued him, the second luckily he did not venture out, as there is nothing but concrete (splat) below.

Thankfully frozen Kong’s, a couple new challenging toys, and more bike riding have helped Dexter, and he is doing much better now. I think he finally gets that we will indeed be returning at some point to fill his bowl and scratch his belly, so there is no need for shenanigans. Or so we hope.

P.S. Since Ed rescued him, has two dogs of his own, and is a dog lover in general, Dexter fell in love with him. So much so that he visits him whenever he gets the chance, no invitation required. Ed nonchalantly brings him home and we scratch our heads trying to figure out which door, gate or window he got out of this time.

About JulieRae, she’s a hardworking Realtor/Mom whose mantra of late is “Yes, but first coffee.”

For help buying, selling, or investing in San Diego she’s your gal @