Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Completed House Sits: Costa Mesa, CA – January 24th to February 14th, 2017

When Mark and I found out about a 2.5-week house and pet sit in Southern California, we applied to take care of 7-month-old Jaxx and find warmer weather. The owner chose us for the assignment and soon after, we were on our way to Costa Mesa after visiting some friends in the San Francisco Bay Area. We were to stay in her cozy apartment, in walking distance of many stores and amenities.

Luckily for both parties, our flexible natures allowed for the owner to stay a few days extra abroad and for us to remain in the area for three full weeks in total. During the week, we sat behind our computer to work and entertained the puppy with toys, love and attention. Jaxx needed constant supervision when he was not napping.

Since Mark works full-time for our business, I had to juggle a bit when taking showers and doing things in the bedroom or the kitchen. Sometimes, I would put him in the yard for a little while (until he started digging in the flower pots) or asked him to stay close by. I imagined this must be similar to having young children.

Once in a while, he was sent into his crate for an hour or two, when I really needed to concentrate on my writing. It still beat being in there all day while his owner is at work, and of course, we didn’t want him to lose that habit completely. Twice a week, he was picked up by dog walkers for a couple of hours, a schedule the owner wanted to keep up, since it was good for Jaxx to socialize and for us to have a little break.

In the mornings, we would take our pup for a walk in the neighborhood and, since Mark is on an East Coast work schedule (very early starts and relatively early finishes), we enjoyed a decent walk with Jaxx every afternoon, when it wasn’t raining. We took him to a park called Back Bay (Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Ecological Reserve), walked him a few blocks down to Castaways Park or played at the dog park, another great time for him to socialize and learn his place. After 1-2 hours of afternoon activity, he was usually “done” for the day and rested on the couch with us.

At night, we shared our bed with Jaxx. For a small puppy, he took up an incredibly big space. 🙂

On the weekends, we explored a bit further afield, something that would wear all of us out, so we could start the new work week mentally and physically satisfied. While the weather was a bit disappointing – loads of rain and fog – we all had a good time together. Being in Southern California was a nice change from our previous months further north.

Best feature(s): There were many attractions nearby and we could walk to stores and a nice park.

Best gadget(s): A small space heater and dumbbells for my exercises; lots of toys for Jaxx, all collected in a basket.

Surprise(s): The owner prepared our visit really well, treated with Thai take-out the first evening, was very responsive by email and brought us back a gift from the Philippines.

Downside(s): The heater in the apartment didn’t work (there was one small space heater, which “lived” in Mark’s office – he has less protective tissue, aka fat, than I have), so we were often cold inside, and the dryer broke. Luckily, there was a coin-operated one down the driveway.

You can read about all our other completed house sits here.


  1. Jaxx was a perfect gentleman when he was visiting our house, but you can tell by the glint in his eyes that he could be a handful! I hope that the next time you get to SoCal, the weather will be better. It’s still rainy and windy now.

    • Jaxx was probably a gentleman because he was dead-tired after a day of walking and playing with another pup… He was actually pretty good for a 7-month-old. We hope to be back one day, maybe with another dog. That depends on whether we can avoid animal shelters or not the coming year. 🙂 Sun is out here in Northern California now, but still pretty chilly. We are making a fire every day.

  2. You are the best dog-sitters (forget the house, LOL)! Your photos of the area and Jaxx are wonderful, and it looks like you all had a great time.

    • We did have a good time, despite the cool and rainy temperatures – those were the days we tried to be productive, while the sunny ones had us out and about. Nice to have that flexibility. We are pretty good dog sitters if we say so ourselves. 🙂 Main thing is that we are thoroughly enjoying the company of all these pups and taking them on adventures. And, they love it too! By the way, we are pet sitting the sweetest of dogs right now!!

  3. Sounds like a good arrangement all round Liesbet. What job does Mark do that he can do from so many homes?

    • Yeah, the house sitting thing is still the perfect way of life for us right now. Lots of diversity and the opportunity to see new places and still have short and sweet adventures. We do prefer the longer term sits, though, since that provides us with a feeling of home and allows us to focus on our work and projects better than one-week stints.

      Mark and I invented a product and started a long-range WiFi business from our boat in St. Martin in 2009 and he is still running (and improving) that company, plus doing all the customer support and behind the scene stuff. If you are interested: (check out the about us tab).

    • We were thrilled to be in Southern California for three weeks over the winter. The area had a lot to offer, but we hoped it would be a bit warmer and sunnier. You know… the lure and myth of Southern California… We did see waves and surfers, though, albeit not very tanned and with heavy wet suits. 🙂

  4. Looks like you all had a great time together!

    • We did and we were happy the 2.5 weeks became 3. But, just not enough to get really settled for a bit. We are coming to realize we prefer sits of at least one month, ideally 2-3 months.

  5. I agree with Terri. You and Mark are wonderfully attentive pet-sitters. The home/pet owners that choose you are very lucky indeed. Great photos!

    • Thanks, Donna. I’d like to think we are doing a pretty good “job”. Fact is that we really love being with dogs and are able to connect with them really well. They all crave time, activity and attention, and, fortunately, we are able and happy to give that to them.

  6. What an adorable puppy, and it sounds like an active, positive sitting experience. I would not have enjoyed the no-heat situation, though!

    • The no-heat situation was a bit tough at times, especially when waking up to 50F inside and sitting at the kitchen table to work at my computer with ice cold hands and nose. My layers of clothes helped, and turning the oven on with the door open for a little while as well. 🙂 The advantage of having all our belongings with us in the car, means we have an assortment of clothes. Of course, we could always run after sneaky Jaxx to grab a sock, or play with him to get warm. 🙂

  7. Liesbet, love that you both have the flexibility to branch out and housesit for others. What a cool way to really explore new locations. And based on the gorgeous pictures, it looks like you’ve really sucked the marrow out of these experiences.

    I also suspect you needed even more patience than you implied in this post as well. Jaxx has that mischievous glint in his puppy eyes that was adorable to read about, but likely exhausting to contain for 3 weeks. Thanks for sharing!

    • The trick with a puppy is to be consistent and stern when they get in trouble, to reward them with a treat or praise for good behavior (consistently), like when he plays with a dog toy instead of a tissue, and to take him on walks or to the dog park; be active with him. A tired puppy is a sleepy puppy, and sleeping puppies stay out of trouble. 🙂

      Especially shorter sits are relatively tiring without much accomplishments on a writing/work level for me, because we want to take advantage of sunny weather to explore the area we are only in for a week or two or three. This period is also too short to build a routine and get things done. Now, on our current two-month sit, the pressure to see a lot every weekend is less and, if it is rainy out, we happily stay indoors by the fire with a good book, instead of being annoyed at a “lost” weekend day.

  8. This looks like a lovely area to spend some time and little Jaxx is so adorable :o)

    • He was such a cutie, Xenia. I did feel like we weren’t totally connected, though. Maybe because we were only there for a short time or maybe because he was still too young for that level of understanding and bond.

  9. Jaxx looks like a handful, but an incredibly adorable one. 🙂

  10. Looks like a pretty area to call home for a short time. Jaxx sounds like a handful but a cutie!

    • We were pretty happy with our three week location in Costa Mesa and we definitely tried to make the most of everything the area has to offer, especially when those areas are dog-friendly. 🙂

  11. I really enjoy reading how things turn out in the end. Each house sit like a little chapter of life. The summary of the good and bad is my favourite. I would have been stealing that heater though. Looks like the pup had the best deal of all having the two of you as house guests. 🙂

    • You are phrasing that so well, Sue – each house sit does feel like a little chapter or a new episode with exciting prospects. Almost like mini-vacations. 🙂 Enjoy your amazing once-in-a-lifetime vacation in Africa!!!!!

  12. Lovely area and amazing post, Liesbet!

    • Thanks, Agness. I’m sure that you will pass through this area at some point during your globetrotting adventures! 🙂

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