Friday, March 30, 2012

The Flamingo

This weekend, we move.


I am beyond thrilled. 

I feel like the past three months have been this fake life where I wear sweatpants everyday, eat junk food, gain 10 pounds (no joke), stare at the computer screen and wait for my life to start, in this strange alien place where it's 70 degrees outside and it's sunny everyday and it's winter or spring or whatever -- it all looks and feels the same.

It's starting this weekend, people! We stopped by the apartment the other day because our new mattress was being delivered, so here is a sneak peak of the new place.

We live in a pink triplex. I have decided right this second to call it The Flamingo. (Subject to Dan's approval). Our place is in the back, up the stairs. 

You walk into our living room. Dan may be in shadows here, but the room gets a ton of bright natural light, thanks to two windows.

Our kitchen has all new appliances, including my very first garbage disposer. (This may be funny to West Coasters, but I used one for the first time maybe a week ago at Ara's house. Dan totally yelled at me because I forgot to turn the water on. I didn't know! They are not so common where I come from.) Our kitchen is big enough to hold a dining table to seat four.

We're planning to use our spare bedroom as an office/library. But it also has its own closet and plenty of storage space.

This photo is not so convincing but our bathroom is actually white. It's small (about the same size as our New York bathroom), but the tub, sink and toilet all look new(ish).

We have a huge bedroom. This has never happened to us before, so we're not sure what to do with the all this space! Isn't our mattress pretty?

Our favorite part? The bedroom opens up to the pink balcony, which will be home to our grill, small table and two chairs and plants -- oh and our washer and dryer. It's out there, which is sort of weird, but hello, we have a washer and dryer! We are planning to cover it up when it's not in use.

Soon enough, this place will be filled with boxes, and I imagine we will be living in a messy state of chaos for the next few weeks (months?).

But at least there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Oh, yeah, and I happen to start my new job on Monday. So I have some stuff going on. FINALLY! I've rested enough. Bring it on.

The DOM turns ONE

Last weekend, we went to Visalia for Dominic's first birthday party. Seems like just yesterday this little guy was born.

He's one of the happiest babies I have ever seen. He is always walking running around with a smile on his face!

Do you know what game Henry and Dan are playing? 

The theme of the party was construction. It was such a cute idea. The kids got plastic construction hats and tool belts to wear and tools to play with. We had build-your-own sandwiches and (my favorite) build-your-own cupcakes. I built three. And what is a party without a pinata. Here, Dominic with the help of mom Monica takes the first shot.

 I love the anticipation!

Michela gave it a shot, but she was sad that she couldn't break it. The honor went to the "big" girl in the green dress. (Meanwhile, Michela is pretty scared of Dan and me, and so she didn't really talk to us during the party. More like, she ran in the opposite direction anytime we looked anywhere in her direction. But the next day, we all became friends when we played bubbles together.)


My favorite part! The cake!

Tia (Kathy) and Tio (Jim) got Dominic the best gift of all. They gave him a yellow toy truck and concrete mixer that has been played with by all of the men in the family -- including Dan! Here they are admiring it, and remembering all the good times.

We'll be back in two weeks for Easter!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Good News

This is the week where things are finally coming together.

1. I got a job working as a senior copywriter at a start-up weight loss company. In my new role, I will working on rebranding the entire company -- the web site, all promotional materials, packaging, all of it. It sounds like an interesting project, and the people were super cool. This is my first full-time job in four years. We get half-day Fridays so hopefully that should ease my way back to working five days a week again. I start the first week of April. So happy for the security and routine that will soon be coming into my life.

2. Our move is scheduled for March 31. (That's right, moving and starting a new job in the same week -- shouldn't be too stressful, right?) We will be hiring movers to take our fifty-or-so boxes from storage (aka Ara's parents house) to our new place in Santa Monica. We have no furniture, so last week we went out and purchased the most important items for our home: a bed and shelves to store the vinyl.

3. We booked a vacation! Dan is taking a looooong business trip to London in May. We decided to take advantage of having one airfare already paid for, so I will be joining him for the tail end of his trip to make a week-long vacation during our anniversary. (We're both taking some vacation days so he won't be working the whole time). I studied abroad in London in 2000 and haven't been back since. This will be Dan's first time. I am super excited to head back to Europe (it's been too long!) I can't wait to show Dan my old haunts and introduce him to HobNob cookie rolls. Dan wants to visit the Downton Abbey home, but it looks like it's not open the week we're there. I am sure we'll find some other way to occupy ourselves. Let me know if you think there's anything we should put on our must-see list.

4. I am calling 2012 the year of the baby. Everyone I know is expecting. Our dear friends Nell and Adam welcomed Theo on St Patrick's Day, and Josie and Scott from Visalia had Luke, their second, on 3/20. Congrats.

That's it for now!

Monday, March 12, 2012

La Nueva Casa

And so it appears that our days living as gypsies is about to come to an end. We have found a new home.

Photo from Westside Rentals

Our apartment is located in Santa Monica, which for those of you who don’t know, is awesome. It’s kind of what you imagine all of Los Angeles should look like -- with palm tree-lined streets, cute shops and a beachy vibe. Everyone here appears to be in a constant state of shopping, surfing, jogging or bike riding. Yes, people are actually functioning outside of their cars, which is rare in these parts. Our place is about a half mile walk to Main Street, which is filled with plenty of boutiques, restaurants and coffee shops, and a block from that--the beach. That means the ocean is closer to us than Central Park was to our old NY apartment. Plus, everyone tells us that the temperature here is about 15 degrees cooler than the rest of Los Angeles, which makes for breezy, comfortable weather, year-round. I think I am going to like it here.

The apartment is small for California living--about 900 square feet--but will probably suit our New York City standards just fine. It has a sunny living room area, two bedrooms, one bath, a balcony, a washer/dryer in the unit and a kitchen with all new appliances--a huge upgrade from our old place back east and we’re spending $200 less per month than we did there.

Picking this apartment was not easy, as we found another great place on the very same day and couldn’t decide which one was better. The other place was much bigger and spacious. With two floors, it felt more like a real home. Not to mention it was even CLOSER to the Main Street/beach action. But it was at the top of our budget, a little dark, lacked the washer/dryer in the apartment and the outdoor space was a bit useless, and so we opted for the smaller, more affordable one.

Dan’s work is about 5 miles away, so hopefully it will take him less than 30 minutes to get there (we pray!), and I am now only looking for work on LA’s west side so I have a comparable commute.

There is still a little part of me that is disappointed we’re living in such a generic apartment that has none of the charm of the quaint Spanish style cottage with garden I was imagining before we moved here. Those apartments don’t exist on this side of town, or at least, not in our budget.  (It also didn’t help on the day we were making our decision that we visited a friend’s new apartment in Los Feliz that was pretty much EXACTLY what I was imagining for us--with a much bigger price tag, I do admit. Plus living in that part of town, it would take Dan over an hour to get to work each day).

However, I can’t deny the appeal of our location. Even driving around Santa Monica while looking at apartments, I immediately felt invigorated and revived, and I can’t wait to explore everything. I already know that I will be going to the beach at least once a week, walking to the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings, riding my bike to the library and shops and running along the beach. I am going to sign up for a plot in the community garden so one day I can grow my own vegetables. (There is a waiting list that might take years, but maybe we’ll get used to this California lifestyle). I’ve already started dreaming about our home decor. I have named myself creative director of the project. Dan is finance manager. I am thinking a palette of ocean-like colors of turquoise, greens, tans, white...and of course, some yellow.

I am just not sure how often any of our friends -- most who live all the way across town -- will come visit us. But I imagine we’ll find something here by the ocean to entertain ourselves. And maybe our east coast friends will stop by for a visit (hint, hint).

We move April 1st.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Getting to Know Us

On Saturday night, our dear friends Brett and Emily threw one of their epic parties, and Dan and I are the guests of honor.

The party was called Meet The Pasquinis, and the whole idea of the party was for us to meet all of their great LA friends. Here is the invitation:

I have never had anyone throw me a party before, and I was so touched by all the people who showed up and all the thought that went into it. There was a bonfire, a nacho bar, a Pasquini martini (margarita drink), and a Suggestion Clown, or rather a scary-looking clown-shaped pinata where guests could write down their "What to do in LA" suggestions and insert them in his mouth. (We're thinking of breaking open the pinata at our future housewarming party--whenever we do find an apartment).

I have been sick with a mild cold the week prior, but about two hours before the party started, I came down with a case of laryngitis. Luckily, my changed voice stayed with me for most of the night, so I was able to talk to nearly everyone who came, but by the end of the night, I literally could not say another word and Dan had to do all the talking for me. I met so many nice people who had so many positive things to say about living in this city -- it really warmed my heart.

Thank you, Brett and Emily! (And to Anna, who lovingly crafted me a mini megaphone made out of a Styrofoam cup to help me speak up. It actually worked!)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Life's a Beach

March 1. I was really hoping I would have a job by now. I don't do well with this non-working thing. From past experience, this is something I know well about myself. I am feeling all the same despondent feelings all over again, only now I don't have the comfort of my own home to wallow in my self-pity.

I adore our current landlords, Cyndi and Chris, and their talkative son Sam, but I feel sorry for them because here at the two month mark, I am a dull and lethargic house guest, mired in doubt and worry. I would try to get out of their house, for their sakes, to give them some space from my negative energy, but the furthest I can go without a car is to the park or to Trader Joe's, which of course is hilarious because it's LA and who walks to the grocery store?

The best thing that Cyndi could do is drive me to the beach. Sam caught the croup, so he was a little under the weather, but we thought some fresh air would do him (and me) some good. It was a cool 70 degrees and foggy, so we were wearing sweatshirts the whole time, but being close to the sandy beaches and ocean waves lifted my spirits. We ate sandwiches from Bay Cities (delicious Italian deli meat!), and we watched a whole school of dolphins swim by! I have never seen anything like that before, and it made all my problems feel small and trite in comparison of its beauty.

When I lived in New York, I used to go to Central Park about once a week to recharge. I decided that the beach is the new Central Park.

Last weekend, Dan and I had an intensive apartment hunt, and we nearly settled on a charming two-bedroom apartment in our price range with two stories, hardwood floors and a tiny yard located on a quiet street a half mile from the beach, cute shops and restaurants. We hesitated -- it was a little too small, the fixtures a bit old, and what were those weird termite-looking bugs on the window sill? We asked the landlord to check into the bugs and the next day, someone else snatched up the apartment. Oh well. We're sort of bummed and relieved, but gosh, how great would it be to be able to walk to the beach....a grocery store was also walking distance, so there is always that too.

I tried to take a good picture of Sam which was nearly impossible since he was less than amused by my efforts and not feeling 100%. Here are my best shots:

"Hmmm...What is this giant contraption pointed in my direction?"

"If I turn around, maybe she will leave me alone."

"You're still there!" SCORN. SNOTS!

"Sure, I will play cute, but I refuse to acknowledge the photographer's existence."

"Fine, I will smile once. But only when you are not ready."

"Mommy, some lady creep is following me around with a camera."

"Make her go away."

"Going home! No more pictures! HAHAHAHAHA."