Episode #115: Money Dials and Buys that Spark Joy

In today’s episode, we are talking all about money dials. We’re also discussing the best things we have bought in our 30s that have sparked a lot of joy for us.

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Show notes:

I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi

You can also read more about How I Save Money here!

-Emma’s Money Dials: travel, personal home, and skincare

-Elsie’s Money Dials: home and making memories

-Emma’s favorite trips: Iceland, Norway, and China

-Listen to Episode #35: Rich Life Chat with Ramit Sethi

-Listen to Episode #42: Oops, I’m Moving Again

-We mention Serena & Lily

-Elsie’s favorite rooms in her house: Music studio room and her office

-Emma’s favorite skincare products: 

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9

-Emma mentions Bite Whitening Gel

-Elsie’s best buys from her 30s: Her McMansion, firetable, and pizza oven

-Emma’s dog, Steve—if you have had a dog that stopped eating after you brought a baby home please leave a comment below with any tips that helped you.

-Elsie’s Olive Garden floors—any ideas leave a comment below

Miss an episode? Get caught up!

Episode 115 Transcript

Emma: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess podcast. This week, we’re talking about money dials, what they are and what our money dials are. We are also going to be sharing some of the best things we’ve bought in our thirties. These are the purchases that have sparked a lot of joy for us. And at the end of the episode, we’re bringing back a segment that we don’t do all that often. It’s called Ninety Nine Problems.

Elsie: Nice. I’m excited about this episode.

Emma: Yeah, it’s a little bit different. So I did a little Q&A on my personal Instagram now quite a while ago and one person was asking me about money dials. This is a thing that our friend, friend of the pod, Ramit talks about in his book and in his brand. His book is called I Will Teach You to Be Rich and he also has online courses and Elsie and I are just big fans. We are fangirls. We love what he does. We love all his advice.

Elsie: It really did change my life. So if you’re at a point in your life where you’re like I need to, quote unquote, get my money in order or it’s making me feel anxious or it’s making me feel stressed or sad or bad or any of those things, I would definitely recommend his book because it helped me so much. Now my relationship with money is very chill and it feels great. Got rid of the guilt. 

Emma: I like that a lot. He could better explain money dials but I think of them as areas like things that you like to spend money on. So when you can, you can turn them up and when needed, you could turn them down because that’s one thing he talks about. When you’re designing your own rich life is you should spend money on the things that make you really happy and ruthlessly cut costs in other areas. You can be totally cheap in other areas that don’t matter as much to you.

Elsie: The first time Ramit came on our podcast, he asked me the question, he was like, what’s the one thing in your life that if you could spend three times more or four times more, the joy, the appreciation for it would go up with the spend. That’s how I figured out what mine is and hopefully with me just saying that right now you’re thinking of what yours would be. It is a fun thought experiment and something that can bring a lot of joy and money freedom to life too. So do you want to share your money dials then?

Emma: Yeah. So mine are, I just picked three and I mean I think these can change over your lifetime, and the level at which you can do them changes and all of that. But anyway, mine are travel, so traveling. I like to see new places and I also like to go to the same place more than once. But I love photography and I mostly photograph food in my job, a little bit crafts and decor, but mostly things you see on our blog so a lot of food. So when I travel, I love to take pictures of landscapes or interesting buildings or it’s just something I really enjoy when I travel. So travel, personal home, that would be my second money dial, which obviously we all, whether you rent or own a home, we all like to care about our home. We have to live somewhere. Everybody lives somewhere. But I really love decorating and love looking at houses and thinking about houses. It’s definitely an area that means a lot to me, which you could probably guess from the subject of this podcast. But yeah, so personal home, and then my third one is skincare, kind of beauty, kind of self-care. That’s what I think of it, as this is one that’s really blossomed in my thirties because I didn’t care as much about it in my twenties. But now I literally like right now, show Elsie, you guys can’t see it who’s listening, but I brought my whole box of what Trey calls my creams, and it’s all just skincare and serums and moisturizers. It’s just I love to try new things and spend money on it when I can. So those are my money dials.

Elsie: So many people can relate to that, like taking good care of your skin is, I think it’s the best feeling.

Emma: It feels so good. Yeah, like just get it really clean or exfoliate or use a new mask. I don’t know. It’s just really fun. Anyway, so what are your money dials?

Elsie: Hell yeah. Ok, so for me, I really mainly just have one, which is my home, which I, as everyone knows, go crazy on and I did turn it up to a four or whatever. Other than that, I have a lot of stuff where it’s like making memories with my family and that can mean different things. It could mean traveling like right now it doesn’t really. We’re doing other things that, to me, mean just as much. So I didn’t want to put travel because it’s just complicated right now but I know that it will be in the future. But yeah, making memories in one way or another, like this year it’s definitely our pink house and another year it might be going on a trip to Japan, hopefully. 

Emma: So as I mentioned, one of my money dials is travel, so I thought I would just say a couple of some of my favorite trips from the last years. As Elsie mentioned, I haven’t been traveling lately because of COVID and also I just had a son. I have a three month old so that kind of changes your perspective on it a little bit. But I do love traveling and I very much plan to get back to it when I can. Anyway, here’s three places that I went that were really fun. One was Iceland. I’ve been there twice and the second time I went was with a group of friends and that was just really fun to spend time with friends. The first time I went with was Elsie and Jeremy. But I just think Iceland’s beautiful and so interesting and I love taking pictures of landscapes and things like that. So love Iceland on that same wavelength or whatever. I also really loved Norway. I got to go there a couple of years ago, maybe three years ago at this point, and it’s beautiful and I can’t wait to go back and explore some other areas of that country because it’s so cool. Then another special trip that I got to go on some years ago was China. I went with the Larsen family as they adopted Marigold and it was wonderful. I mean, we didn’t do tons of touristy stuff. We did go to the Great Wall. That was really fun but mostly I was so grateful to be able to spend the money to go on this trip to see my niece become adopted. It means a lot to me to as Ramit would say, I was living my rich life because I got to spend my money on something that was so special and I will always cherish that trip. But it was also really fun to go to China. I’d never been to a country like that and so it was very interesting. I felt like I got a much broader perspective on that part of the world. So that was also cool.

Elsie: Every time I look back at pictures from China, I just can’t believe that you came with us and it means so much. I know that at the end of our lives, it’ll be one of the really meaningful things so I’m glad you’re there. Emma was with me when we saw Marigold smile for the first time in our hotel so it’s really, really special. Don’t make me cry.

Emma: Yeah, it was the best. That is the rich life right there.

Elsie: So I love all of that. That’s really inspiring. So when Ramit asked me that question about a year and a half ago, what would you do if you could up this one spend in your life home stuff? I immediately had all these visualizations in my mind of what I would do. Honestly, it was like moved to this house where we live now because at the time I had seen the house but I hadn’t admitted it to my husband. It was this whole thing and if you guys want to hear that full story, it’s in the episode, Oops, I’m Moving Again and I will link it in the show notes. It’s kind of a tale as old as time by this point and I can’t repeat it again. So when we bought this house, I knew it was my version of living my rich life because what I want more than anything in the world is a project like a big, inspiring, exciting possibilities, rooms that need to be renovated, rooms with no personality that are crying out for help, things like that. I really felt like I got that when we found this house and the layout is basically perfect but everything else about it wasn’t. It was just a really good possibility for me. So anyway, my money dial for sure is house stuff and it’s the one thing in my life that I don’t, like I would feel kind of guilty if I just bought a bunch of really expensive clothes that I don’t really need, just because I know I don’t really need them. It’s not a part of my value system. It’s not really a money dial for me. I actually really like affordable clothes. But anyway, I would never feel guilty though, if I buy something that I’ve been dreaming about for a year from Serena and Lilly, which is kind of expensive and fancy. But it’s different because it’s the thing I picked to be important to me and it’s been really rewarding. We’ve only just started renovating this home but the two rooms that I feel are really reflective of where I want to go are the room where I’m sitting right now, which is my husband’s office and a music studio room. My office just both feel so cozy and got the vibe. The home is definitely where the money is for me.

Emma: I get it. I get it. Yeah, a personal home is on my money dial list too and I love the home we’re in right now because I love the neighborhood. I love the home but I really love the neighborhood. I think one thing I’m realizing is there’s two big components to a personal home to me other than decor like a couch that I love or a rug that I love because I feel that’s what you think of when you think of money dials and homes and those are important. I love couches, I love rugs but what I really think is important to me is one, great natural light so I can do my work. I work from home, but then to have some kind of sense of community surrounded with your personal home. So the house I’m in right now, I go on walks a lot and very often I run into a friend because I just have a few friends who live in the neighborhood. A lot of times they’re out with their kids on their scooters and Trey and I will run into them while we’re pushing Oscar and his stroller or we’ll go to the coffee shop nearby or we’ll walk with some friends outside to one of the little restaurants that’s nearby, things like that. I think I just love that aspect of it. One thing that I’m kind of dreaming on for one day that I would love to spend money on that I’d love to have for my rich life one day is, well, two things. One dream is I really want to live close enough to an elementary school or a library or something where Oscar and I can walk there. I would love to walk him to kindergarten. This is kind of a dream of mine. I don’t know if it’ll happen, because boy, does that limit your house search but I just have it in my mind. It’s something like that. So that and then the other thing is I’d love to have a better outdoor space. I’d really love a pool one day. My idea is, so I have these friends, their parents have a pool at their house and all the time my friends and their group of friends are hanging out at this pool, which is their parents’ house. In my mind, I’m like one day that could be me. Oscar and his friends could hang out there or me and all my friends from my book club and their kids could come over and we all just swim together and hang out like I just would love to be the house where people come over to hang out. That’ll be amazing. I feel a pool would really attract people. So anyway, dare to dream. I don’t have a pool right now and I don’t know if I’ll get one but it’s just kind of a dream of mine.

Elsie: So, yeah, well, I know that you’re going to get one. I mean, how do you not know you’re going to get one? You are. Tell us about your skin stuff. I’m excited to hear about this.

Emma: Ok, so the reason I brought this box of skincare in here while I was recording today was I was just going to tell you everything that’s in it because and I will put this, this is more like, Yes, I’m going to tell it to you right now in the podcast. So if you just listen, you don’t want to look at the show notes, you’re still going to get the info. But this is one of those moments where it actually will be really beneficial if you go to our show notes. So and that’s at A Beautiful Mess dot com slash podcast. So if you go there, you can get links and like, really see everything I’m talking about, here’s my box

Elsie: That skincare. Hmm. I’ll tell you all it is bigger than you think.

Emma: All right. I’ll start with face masks. I only have two of those in this box. I have more, but I only have two. So one is this like brightening face mask. It is pumpkin and honey. It smells like pumpkin and it burns a little bit and it feels great. That’s my level on facemask. Does it burn a little bit? My second face mask is bloom effects, Dutch dirt masks. So this one is almost like a black color. When you put it on your face, it looks like dirt

Elsie: That when does it feel tingly or

Emma: Feels very,  its firming is what it feels like. Then it’s also a little bit grainy so it can be exfoliating depending on how you take it off but you can rub it off and it feels really nice. So those are two masks that I’m loving right now. Let’s do moisturizers. Yeah, so I have let me see here for moisturizers in a serum right now. So one is this Coco Kind Matcha Face Moisturizer. So this one’s literally green. When you put it on, it’s green and as you rub it in it, it’s not green anymore. So you could wear it during the day and it smells like matcha and it’s super moisturizing and I love it. I also just love that brand. They have a lot of great stuff. I also have One Love Skin Dew. This one kind of smells a little bit like coconut and it’s very light. you can wear under makeup. It feels really, really, really nice. This one I’ve bought multiple times. I love it.

Elsie: It. I love that one too.

Emma: The one I use at night all the time, Leahlani Bless Balm. If you’re only going to buy one moisturizer, this is the one. Love it so much. I love everything from her brand but this is the product that I buy over and over and over again. Then my last moisturizer is one that I’ve bought this many times and I’ve probably been using it the longest lush cosmetics and I don’t know how to pronounce it skin’s Shangri-La. I’ll link it because I don’t know how to pronounce it, but it’s really also very lightweight. You can wear it under makeup. It’s something I wear during the day. Then the serum I’m into right now is, I just got it and I actually really like it. It’s a Function of Beauty and they do the thing where you can take a quiz and you can get shampoo and conditioner or they now have added skincare stuff. And so I finally tried it and I really like it. It’s a serum so it’s kind of almost like oily. I do it at night and I’m really into it. It’s based on your skincare goals. I liked it. I got influenced by Keely, who’s a friend of ours, who does Lady Gang, and she has the SolaWave wand, which is like a red light therapy type wand. I have this renewed complex serum, so you put this on first and then you have this little stick that has a red light and you rub it all over your face and I’ve seen her do it on Instagram and she does it like pretty firm and I totally got influenced. I saw her doing it and she has amazing skin so I was like, I have to buy that. But it’s really like warms so if nothing else, it feels really nice. It’s just really warm and soothing. Then I also, I guess I should admit that all of my Instagram ads are skincare, like 90 percent. They really got my number. So I got this off of an Instagram ad and it’s called Muesli and it’s a treatment for melasma, which I have, which is like dark spots and it’s a hormonal thing and a lot of treatments for melasma, you can’t do while you’re nursing. I don’t know what the ingredient is but they just don’t let you do them while you’re nursing. This one, it’s called the spot cream, and they have two different versions their main version, which you aren’t supposed to do while you’re nursing and then they have a version that you can do if you’re breastfeeding or nursing, which I am right now. And so I just really appreciated that there was an option because I have melasma and I don’t love it and it got a little worse while I was pregnant. It’s a hormonal thing, and it’s not the end of the world, but I just wanted something that I could do right now while I’m still nursing my son. So anyway, I love this. I’ve been using it for almost two months now and I really like it. So highly recommend it. By the way, none of these are ads. I’m just telling you stuff that I like.

Elsie: Yeah, they can tell. They can tell.

Emma: Then the last thing, someone did send me in the mail, so I’ll say that but it’s not a sponsor or anything, but it’s called Bite. They do those toothpaste bits that you put it in your mouth. It looks like a tablet. So I have those and they’re cool but this is their whitening gel and I actually really like this whitening gel. It’s probably one of the best whitening gels I’ve ever used and you apply it with a tiny brush. I really like that because then you can avoid getting it all over your gums because it kind of burns a little bit so you can get it just on your teeth which is pretty much what I want. Yep, that’s it. The end. That’s everything in my skincare box, my creams box. I’m into it. Since I can’t travel. This is what I do now. I just do skincare.

Elsie: I know I feel like I want to hear people’s alternative money dials when it’s like Covid’s ruined one part of your life, which for many of us. It has not traveling being a main one. I’m OK with not traveling. The idea of doing it later though still makes me happy and brings me joy that there will be hopefully a time when we’re doing big, exciting trips again.

Emma: Don’t want to minimize how painful the last few years have been for anyone but I also think it has broadened my perspective and so one positive thing is I think I appreciate travel much more than I did before.

Elsie: Oh hell yeah, I appreciate everything more now. Have you hung out with friends? Like, it feels so good now. Yes, big time. Anything social is like a miracle now. Feels great

Emma: Gratitude level went up, up, up, up, up. So you know, there’s that. That’s the counterweight, the counterbalance to it all, I guess. Tell us some of the best buys from your thirties.

Elsie: I already said my McMansion. I think it’s OK that I call it a McMansion because that’s making fun of myself. It’s cute to make fun of yourself, right? Ok, but for real, all jokes aside, buying a house with a pool is probably the best money I ever spent and here’s why. So my kids, low vision, I think I’ve talked about this on the podcast once before but there’s like lots and lots of things that aren’t great for them. Any kind of sport with balls is just like, no, no, no.

Emma: Elsie’s daughters both have albinism. You said it really fast there so I just make sure people can hear it. They have really low vision. That’s part of it. Keep going.  feel like some people don’t know that, that that’s part of albino is low vision.

Elsie: Thank you for clarifying that. Yeah. So when it comes to like kickball or something like that, those activities are not fun and our kids don’t feel included in them because it’s just something that they just can’t do because they just cannot see very far away especially in the bright sun. When we moved to a house with a swimming pool, we had kind of toyed with the idea for a long time of putting in a swimming pool or, you know, just an extra big hot tub that’s kind of like both or all the different ideas. We live in the South. I feel like it’s like the line of the south where it’s still kind of has Midwest weather though/ It’s definitely not the deep south. We definitely do not have warm weather year-round. So we have a hard four seasons here. When I thought about getting a swimming pool, I think I felt a little bit of like, what if we don’t use it enough? What if it’s wasted? There’s so many months of the year when it’s cold outside, but here’s my shining testimony of why it’s been great. We got a house with a pool and a hot tub together, that helps because we can absolutely use the hot tub 365 days a year. There’s never going to be a day even in an ice storm if you really want to you could go out and get in the hot tub, which is cool. Then also our swimming pool is heated, which really stretches the seasons. So we start swimming in around March and then we can probably swim until like November. So last year, we were swimming with no heater till October, I know for sure because we didn’t know how to use the heater yet. Remember when you came and visited, that was in October I think.

Emma: Yeah, I remember. It was chilly, but it was fine.

Elsie: It was a little bit cold but nothing you didn’t swim in when you were a little kid, right? So anyway, it’s just been so good for our kids’ self-esteem. They can both swim fully now and they’ve had their safety lessons. They can do like treading all these different things. They can both swim to the bottom. It’s something that they feel really, really good at and that their low vision doesn’t hold them back at all so that’s really special. I love that we can do it year-round. Like there’s a lot of homes in our area that have like a tennis court or something and like nothing against having a tennis court because I actually would be pretty interested in learning tennis but I just can’t imagine that anything would be as useful as what the swimming pool is for our specific family. So that and then I’ll put in a note for the fire table. So the fire table is such a good buy. We bought it at our last home and we moved it to this home and it even has like a little chip in it and like, don’t even care, who cares? The fire table’s so awesome because you can use that year-round as well. It’s actually better during the colder parts of the year. I probably wouldn’t use it that much during the summer, so it kind of stretches your outdoor space into something that’s good for the four seasons, which is cool. It’s just so much fun to go out there and make a couple s’mores. I can’t wait for the age when our kids start having friends over. I just feel like, yeah, the fire table, swimming pool and then my last one is the pizza oven. So we definitely did splurge on our pizza oven and the reason why is because I got so nervous and intimidated, like last Christmas, you know, I bought the one that wasn’t really a pizza oven and I kind of really messed up Christmas for my husband’s gift. He didn’t care. He was cool about it. But I was like, I’m going to make this up to you. I’m going to get us a really good pizza oven. So I just got one that our friends had because I knew it was good and I knew they loved it. I knew it made like restaurant quality brick-fired pizza. It’s called brick fire, wood fire. It’s with wood, yeah. So I knew that it can make restaurant quality wood fire pizza and a thing that I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet in our money dials is for me, house stuff that means a lot to me is like a sofa or like a really cool looking room where I can take a million photos and that’s meaningful to me and it makes me happy but for my husband, it’s actually like cooking stuff is his thing. He is like super super super into cooking. Like this past weekend, he made tacos with our grill and after he was done, he told me these tacos bring me more fulfillment than music ever could. Which is so cute. He just loves cooking and it’s like one hundred percent hobby for him. It’ll never ever be his business at all, which I’m jealous of that. I think it’s great to have that in your life and the older we get, the more we’ve come to value and treasure our hobbies. As we’ve been starting to barely verge on designing our kitchen, it’s very much his kitchen and like, I’m just living in it, you know what I mean? It’s like his functionally and the things that he has like special attention for Chinese food and Mexican food and pizza, obviously. I have my sugar cookies and I have like a few things where but for the most part, I’m like a Pinterest mom I really like making like deviled eggs and stuff. He likes, like cooking, like cooking recipes that take the whole day, where he starts in the morning and you have it for dinner. So we’re very different in those ways. Whenever we spend our money on something that makes cooking more fun, I feel really good about that just because it’s something that I know is a lifelong hobby for him and really meaningful.

Emma: I love that.

Elsie: That’s my buys that sparked joy.

Emma: We were bringing back the segment that we lovingly call ninety-nine problems, but don’t worry, it doesn’t actually have ninety-nine. It’s just small. Yeah, it’s one problem each. It’s just like a small thing, really. The idea is just like, I feel like we talk a lot about really how and that’s how we are. That’s really what we’re like, you can probably tell, but also we’re just trying to be really honest and transparent and sometimes there’s little things that are hard and so that’s what this segment is.

Elsie: Yeah. For the comments that we get that are like, can you show something real? Can you show something bad? Can you show something that’s not a glorified version of reality? This one’s for you. All right. You go first, Emma. Emma’s Is sad. Oh my god, OK.

Emma: Mine is a little sad. So as I’ve mentioned, and as you probably know, I have a three month old son, so that’s new in our life and we have a dog. His name is Steve, and he was a dog my husband adopted before we got married. So we’ve had him a long time. He’s nine years old, I guess because we’ve been married over eight years, something like that. So anyway, and he’s kind of a mix, when people ask what kind of dog he is, like his breed, I actually don’t really know, but he looks kind of like an American dingo. That’s like what he looks like.

Elsie: If you Google it that’s what he looks like.

Emma: Yes. Sometimes they call them Carolina dogs. Anyway, that’s Steve. He’s wonderful. He’s very sweet but he’s a very anxious dog. We always know when a storm is coming because he starts shaking and he’ll hide under my desk. He’s just a really anxious, anxious pup. Ever since we brought Oscar home, he has had a really hard time with it. It’s not that he doesn’t like Oscar or he acts weird around him. He doesn’t. He’s just been a lot more anxious and he especially is having a really hard time eating like he won’t really eat his food. He was a little bit of a picky eater before, but it’s gotten a lot worse since Oscar came home. The best thing we’ve figured out so far is we put these like freeze dried liver treats, they are like chicken liver or beef liver. I’m not actually sure but they’re freeze dried. We crumble those up and put that in his dog food and that helps.

Elsie: Sounds delicious

Emma: Most of the time that works but it’s still not a hundred percent. And yeah, he’s gotten kind of thin. We’ve tried a bunch of things. We can’t really get him to eat. And I don’t know if he’s understimulated because he’s not getting as much as much attention. I don’t know if he’s overstimulated because Oscar cries and I know Steve is a very anxious dog so maybe the noise is just kind of too much for him. I’m not 100 percent. So anyway, we’ve tried a bunch of things and we’ll try some more and he’s OK. We obviously can also go to our vet and work on some solutions there too but it’s just been kind of hard, like being a mom, motherhood has been amazing and I love it so much but that’s probably been the one thing that I’m like. I don’t know how to fix this. And if anyone does have a solution, the best way that you can let me know is by leaving a comment in the show notes of this blog post because it’ll just be faster for me to read them all. So if you’ve ever had this happen, if your dog stopped eating when you brought a baby home and you have a solution for me, please leave it in the comments.

Elsie: I bet there’s someone who has a good answer for you and I hope you can find something because that’s really sad. But yeah, Colin and I used to talk about this all the time how much our relationships with our dogs changed when we became parents. It’s a really common tricky thing for so many people so you’re not alone. 

Emma: It’s hard because I used to take Steve on walks every other day or most days and I found really quickly that I cannot take him and the stroller. It just doesn’t work. It’s too much.

Elsie: Ok, so my problem is really petty compared to him. I’m just going to admit that off the top. Mine is my Olive Garden floors. When I say olive garden floors, do you get a visualization in your mind? Do you already know what I’m saying?

Emma: Yeah, I do. But you better go into it for anyone who hasn’t had the wonderful chance to go to an olive garden. 

Elsie: If you haven’t already seen my flaws, they are beige travertine, I think is what it’s called so they’re just giant, I would say, probably like twenty-four by twenty-four inch beige tiles with kind of like a little bit of marbling. They are not the worst and I don’t like them and they’re a problem in my life. They’re kind of like the perfect situation, like problem in a house because have you ever had something in your house where you’re like, I don’t like it, I don’t love it. I would like something else and everyone it maybe including your spouse is like, but it’s nice, but it’s expensive. That’s kind of my situation with my floors and we have been brainstorming on it for more than a year now because we passed our one year mark last month of living in this home. We’ve lived here a while and we’ve been thinking the whole time about what kind of floors and it’s become a little bit of like now we’re letting people weigh in. Jeremy let Ting weigh in and say what he thought and he took my side, which is like, you know what I mean, kind of divides the playing field a little bit. It’s just been kind of a struggle, mainly because Jeremy loves that the house, ok, so we both love that our house is built around the pool and its kind of U-shaped. The kitchen kind of wraps her on one side and the guest room wraps around the other side. Then in the back the pools in the center. It’s the kind of house where when you walk through the front door you can see into the backyard, which is really cool. We love that. We love how open it is. We love that a lot of the year when it’s in the spring and the fall, you can leave the doors open with just the screen door all day long and you hear that nice like fountain pool noise. So there’s so many things about it that we love but it’s always going to be olive garden floors to me. They’re really hard to photograph and I will admit, like, I know it’s petty but that’s like a big part of my consideration is just that I don’t like specifically how they look in photos. I also think they’re really cold and they have heaters. They’re heated tile but you have to turn that on. It takes a long time to come on. There’s a lot of different like knobs everywhere. So my hope and Ting on my side too, is that maybe we’ll do wood floors because then we don’t have to redo the heating system. That’s what I want to look at and we can still do tile floors in the kitchen and breakfast nook area. Maybe even the entryway, I don’t know. In the living areas. I would really love wood. For Jeremy, the thing that bumps him out is just this, I think he had this vision that it was like we were going to have all the doors open and there were going to be kids running in and out, in and out and it’s didn’t matter how wet the floors got, you know, and you do kind of lose that. So anyway, that’s my problem, and I won’t lie like we haven’t really settled yet on what we’re doing so it’s either wood or it’s tile. Let’s say that and I think that glazed brick is so pretty. I’m thinking about using that on the floor in our powder room that we’re about to do. So I could maybe like feel that out but I feel like seeing it everywhere would just be too much small tile. It’s one of the trickiest design conundrums I’ve ever come up against. I mean, I thought about it for a full freaking year and I never thought of an idea that was different in this whole time. What would you do?

Emma: Wood.

Elsie: One more point for my team. I do think that that’s probably where it’s going because it’s sort of was Jeremy’s hill to die on and he softened up about it more recently. He really just wanted me to leave it tile and he even said it doesn’t have to be this tile but it has to be a tile. But then if we put in another tile, then you know, we have to get another tile heater system and I don’t know. I think maybe that’s not going to happen but I’m trying to think of something to give him as a trade-off maybe. If you have a creative solution either for a dog who stopped eating or a woman who doesn’t like her 90s olive garden tiles, leave them in our show notes today. We’re here to chat. We’re listening. This was a fun episode and very random.

Emma: Very random.

Elsie: Yeah, I kind of love it though. Ok, well, we’ll link to everything we talked about including Ramit’s book, all of Emma’s skincare. We’ll probably do like a college for that. So you can see it too and I’ll show you a picture of my tile.

Emma: Yes, they need to see it so they can weigh in and have their own opinion.

Elsie: Yeah. I was sensitive about it at first when we first moved in because I knew we couldn’t change it for a while but I will say I’m not sensitive about it at all anymore. I’ve said my piece, I’ve said what I want to do and even if we end up doing a different tile, we’re not going to keep this one so say whatever you want. I don’t care.

Emma: Do your worst internet.

Elsie: Do your worst. Oh no, don’t invite that. Ok?

Emma: Thanks so much for listening and thank you for your support. It means a lot when you share our show, we see it and tag us. We love to know what you think. So until next time.

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  • Hi Emma!
    I’m a veterinarian in the UK and my advice for people dealing with anxiety in their pets would be as follows:
    – keep the pet’s routine as normal and regular as possible. You mentioned in the episode that you used to walk Steve every other day and now can’t because of the stroller. Perhaps looking into a dog walker or asking a friend or neighbour to help you walk him so that exercise is kept regular might help. It would also give Steve some time away from Oscar.
    – make sure Steve has a place in the house that is 100% his, that the baby never enters. Maybe it’s a crate or dog pen that’s left open all the time with a blanket over the top and his favourite bedding and toys inside, tucked away quietly in your spare room. Somewhere Steve can retire to when it all gets too much that he knows is 100% his.
    – adding treats throughout the day in little 5min bonding activities that are just you and him. Just 5mins of practicing sit or down or stay, and treating him throughout, ups his calorie intake and increases his bond with you, as it’s one-on-one time with his favourite people
    – definitely get a vet check and bloodwork to make sure there’s nothing else underlying, especially at his age
    – supplements and pheromone support products like Adaptil can be good in conjunction with everything else
    – your vet may prescribe you something to help with anxiety in the short term, like amytriptaline or clomipramine
    Hope that helps! Give us a Steve update in a future episode!

  • Also I recommend hard boiled eggs as a treat for Steve or mixed into dinner! Eggs are great for dogs and are super nutrient dense, and easy to make for you!!

  • Hi Emma and Elsie! In regards to Steve- I am in school to become a canine nutritionist and eating less and having changes in body mass (more fat less muscle) so it can be age and/or stress and some change is normal! You’re all doing your best! I have a (young) neurotic dog who is a really picky eater and feeding her freeze dried food (Stella and chewy is her favorite, but there are many brands) has helped her a lot! I also love to feed her out of puzzle toys, treat toys and snuffle mats because then she gets brain stimulation and dinner! West paw makes some really cool toys and there are tons of “recipes” and Inspo on Instagram for treat toy dinners! I also use Cbd treats for her, I like super snouts brand the best, they have really really helped her chill out! Good luck!!

  • Hi Emma,

    I just read somebody already recommended you Adaptil, We had a similar experience with one of our Scotties, she was 9 when our daughter was born, and was very very anxious during the pregnancy, moving to a new house and the arrival of the baby she started losing some hair and picking her paws. The vet recommended Adaptil and it helped a lot to calm her, they sell collars and a wall diffuser, this one worked best and quicker, now we buy her a collar when we travel.
    Hoping Steve is feeling better soon.

  • Hi Emma ?
    I’ve just listened to this, I have a dog too.?
    I guess anxiety is alot of unwanted energy and for humans things that help anxiety is exercise and getting out.
    I think the best thing you can do is walk Steve everyday to burn some of that energy off. Especially if not walking so much coincides with Oscar being born and Steve’s routine changing.
    My dog won’t eat till she’s had her walk every day. I’ve watched alot of cedar milan videos
    And found them really good ?
    Hope everything gets better. My dog has just been poorly and we had to cancel our wedding last month bc of it so I get it! ❤️

  • Emma, this may be a little “out there” and not directly r/t eating but after my daughter had her first child her dog developed a lot of anxiety and other issues. On the advice of a friend, we found a reputable pet psychic and she was able to “talk” to her dog and it was immensely helpful. In our case, the dog found this baby very confusing and felt a need to monitor the baby all day long. Once we were able to speak to the dog (IRL as well as through the psychic), things improved immensely! I don’t know if this is too crazy, but we sure found it helpful to see things from the dog’s perspective and make some simple changes that really made a difference! Good luck!

  • Emma no advice but my dog, only 3 years old, started turning WHITE after I brought my son home. The vet had no info for that but said she still seemed perfectly healthy. Almost a year in and my formerly brown and black dog is nearly all salt and pepper. It’s hard.

  • For Elsie – what about wood-look tiles? That seems like a good compromise between the function and durability Jeremy wants to keep while provided the updated look you want. I don’t have them myself but I assume since they are tiles, wet kids could walk on them as much as they want. There are some good options on the market now!

    • Hi! They’re not an option for me and I just don’t like how they look. I love real wood and regular tile, though!

  • Hi Elsie- Team wood floor here! 🙂 Maybe you could sway your husband by telling him the Olive Garden floor might be safer for the sake of the floor but wood floors would be safer for the kids, less slippery with wet kids running around? That seems like a win win, safe kids no Olive Garden floors! 😉

  • Elsie – I just got the floors done when I moved into my house this last spring, and we chose something kind of new…waterproof hardwood! It’s a new thing – it’s basically like LVP that’s made with real hardwood (rather than a printed image) so you get all the look of hardwood with the fully waterproof qualities (and cheaper installation) of LVP. There are still tradeoffs with this product vs anything else, but it has been a great choice for us since having seamless flooring through our whole ranch house (including bathrooms and laundry room) was a “nice to have” on our list. It might work great for you to give you the look and warmth of wood yet the low maintenance waterproof practicality that your husband wants for all those pool parties.
    Good luck finding the flooring that works for you! And good luck to Emma getting her dog to eat – poor pup, transitions are hard!

    • Hi Emma!

      I’m late to comment but listened to the episode and wanted to reach out. Sorry about Steve! I swear by raw goats milk for any eating issues. You can pour it over his food and he can even live off of it because it a balanced food for dogs. I fostered a dog who refused food and raw goats milk kept her alive. I give it to all my cats and dogs regularly with their meals. I buy local milk or purchase the primal brand at a local independent pet store.

      Be careful about how much liver treats you feed. They are an awesome healthy treat in small quantities, but over feeding can lead to vitamin A toxicity.

      Congrats on your new family member! Hope Steve feels better!


  • Hi, Emma!

    I definitely recommend that you take Steve to the vet for a couple of reasons. The first is that there could be an underlying illness flaring up due to him being more stressed out than usual. Having the vet run some routine blood work could find such an illness. The second reason is because they do make medications for dogs that can help during times of stress (like “doggy prozac,” if you will). It doesn’t have to be a long term thing either–the vet can recommend something for a temporary basis to take the edge off of his anxiety while he gets used to the baby.

    For what you can do right now, I recommend that you make time to take Steve on walks either without Oscar or with Oscar in a wearable carrier. Steve needs that bonding time with you and Trey that he used to get before the baby arrived. There’s so much change going on right now and dogs are creatures of habit.

    Also, adding the liver to his food was a great idea! Another idea is to offer more of his favorite treats throughout the day–you can incorporate training into giving the treats. Just a simple sit before he gets his treat helps to reinforce that bond that you have with him. The purpose of this is that you’re supplementing his dinner throughout the day with treats. Some pet stores also carry supplement powders and treats that are high in calories that you could add to his food as well. One last thing is to every so often (and if he doesn’t have any food allergies), get him a cheeseburger. I’m not kidding. You’re trying to get extra calories into him and that helps a bunch.

    Hang in there and good luck to you!

  • I’m a veterinarian and had to comment about your dog. If it’s just stress, there are two things I would try that are easy to do as a new mom. One is an Adaptil collar. It has calming pheromones and lasts 30 days. The other is Purina Calming Care probiotic. It can take up to 6 weeks, but just a powder you sprinkle on food daily. Also tastes great. Dont hesitate to bring to vet also, because sometimes people ignore an illness thinking it’s just from baby.

    • Our anxious boy responded well to eating separately in a quiet place and we added farmers dog fresh food to his dry food to make it more enticing!

  • Emma, I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with your dogs not doing well with the new baby. I just wanted to say when i had my first baby, my dogs did the same thing. They wouldn’t eat much. They whined every time she cried and would pace a lot. I didn’t push the food too much and tried to give them extra pets when she was napping. After about 6 or 7 months they started to adjust and when she was able to interact and get interested in the dogs i think it helped a lot! Best of luck. I’m sure he’ll come around! Now she’s obsessed with them and going on walks as a family is so fun.

  • I would lean in to the floors. Just embrace them and trust that large scale beige travertine will come back in fashion and you’ll be ahead of the curve when they do.

    A crazy option just occurred to me- could you paint them? If you just hate the color? Maybe try that first before ripping them out and replacing them?

  • Our dog had similar issues when we brought our first baby home! We brought him to the vet, where he was diagnosed with Addison’s Disease (which can flare up during times of stress). With some meds and injections, he got much better!

  • Making dog food from people food is easier and cheaper than you would think. Throw rice, ground beef, and a veg into an instant pot then mash it up. Have never had my picky eaters refuse it.

  • Hi Emma! During lockdown my then 4 year old son was home full time and my already anxious kitty started having issues. It was and is a lot for him to be around my super energetic kiddo and my cat started licking off all his fur and got an infection. The best solution has ended up being a low dose of “kitty Prozac” for his anxiety. Some animals are just more sensitive even though they love kids. Good luck!

  • Hi Elsie!! We have brick floors in our kitchen and they’re GORGEOUS but they are a PAIN to clean. So just keep that in mind for high traffic areas.

  • Hi Elsie! Have you considered using a luxury vinyl plank flooring? Looks just like wood if you buy a higher end option and it’s waterproof!

  • Our dog struggles with anxiety and not wanting to eat often. It’s sooo stressful. The things that have worked best for us are CBD, freeze dried food as a topper (as you’ve tried), sitting with her or at a certain point giving her 15 mins to eat then taking the food away because the whole ordeal of convincing her to eat started to be a stress trigger so even if hungry she got too stressed and felt triggered. So acting like it was no big deal has also worked. That said none of these tricks have been fool proof and one that worked one time during one of her bouts doesn’t always work the next time. She has taken Pepcid also to help with acid issues, but there are generally other signs that point to that being the needed remedy your vet can advise you on. The biggest help and what works the best is to keep her on a schedule with also scheduled activity right before eating. It gets their appetite up, gives them bonding time and helps them get their stress out plus it gets endorphins flowing. Hope any of that helps, I know your pain.

  • Emma, I’m sorry to hear that your dog is having anxiety & trouble eating. It’s so hard when our pets are acting “off”. We know them so well, yet it’s sometimes difficult for us to figure out what’s wrong. I hope you can get him to the vet soon to get him thoroughly checked out. Hopefully, your vet will find no serious problems & have a solution for you. (And remember, you can always get a second opinion.) Wishing you all the best!

  • Hi Elsie! I’m an interior designer, but, more importantly in this scenario, I also grew up in a house with a pool and both brick and wood floors. It’s hard to describe without a floor plan, but I’ll try: In the entry, pool bath and hall, the flooring was all brick (it felt old-world European in the best way) and then in the kitchen, this transitioned to a wood and brick pattern (like large squares made of wood planks, like 4’x4′ or so with brick in between… I think this could look pretty special and like a modern interpretation with the white oak and glazed brick or otherwise painted brick to match the exterior). The floor then transitioned to just wood for the living spaces. Maybe too much given how open your home is, but just a thought!

    • Hi Emily! Thank you so much for the thoughts. We finally decided to do a combo of some wood and some tile and we are considering brick for the tile part (or something in that family). I appreciate your advice! XX

  • If your dog has anxiety and is not eating, I recommend a vet visit. My daughter has a dog with anxiety, and she now gives him a daily anti-anxiety medication which has made all the difference! Good luck, it is hard to see our pets suffer.

  • Hi Emma! My dog did the EXACT same thing when my son was born back in 2020. She is an anxious breed (Weimaraner), but was never a picky or finicky eater until Milo was born. We tried everything we could (changed food, etc)…she just refused to eat, but acted completely normal otherwise. She also never showed aggression towards my baby. We were at a loss.
    We took her into the vet for her shots and checkup and talked to them about her issue. They gave us some acid reflux medication for her and that completely solved the problem, almost immediately! Not sure if the stress of a new baby caused the acid reflux to develop or flare up, but that is what worked for Juno. Maybe it is something you could ask the vet about, or look into?
    Wishing you and your pup the best!

  • Dog food anxiety is hard! I would try a few things (and apologies if these sound obvious). Before his meals, either you or Trey could try taking him for a short walk so he has time with you adults, and without Oscar around. Getting him away from what seems to be his stressor might help. To make his food enticing you could also try putting some sodium free chicken broth in it. Last but not least, don’t forget that doggy anti-anxiety meds are a thing. If a vet looks at him and determines that there aren’t any underlying issues, maybe either CBD or anti-anxiety meds may help in the short-term.

  • Emma, I would strongly recommend taking your dog to the vet as soon as you can. It may well be just the anxiety, but not eating is also a sign that a pet is sick! Hope he feels better!

  • Hi Emma! I’m so sorry to hear about your pup. Our cat did this when we brought our son home as well. Our vet had no recommendations so I had to figure it out on my own. We ended up getting him new food bowls and food so he would feel special and it would smells new. We introduced them to him with baby in the other room. We did all feedings with baby in the other room and kept the times consistent. I would sit next to him while he ate and drank, too. It worked after the second day! Maybe you could attach his leash to the front of your stroller so he feels like he’s still leading the pack? Animals lead the way to protect the “alpha”. So, if he’s on a leash next to you and behind the stroller he might be feeling like he doesn’t have a job. All the best to you gals and baby Oscar! He’s so cute :3

  • Emma-

    I have an anxious dog too who sometimes doesn’t want to eat for a couple days at a time. We found mixing his dog food with a new dog food does the trick from time to time along with putting treats in it like you said you have done. Good luck! It’s not fun to worry about your puppers.

  • I think maybe I’ve heard you mention you didn’t like the idea before, but how about wood effect ceramic tile for the floors? We have them in our home and I have to say for practicality they are the best! They are super realistic looking too and a lot of people mistake them for real wood floors at first glance.

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