Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mark. Contest winner

Congratulations to Emily S. who won my Mark. giveaway!

Thanks to the lovely Alyssa for sponsoring this fun little online shopping party.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Talk About House Lust!

*If you're coming here from Facebook, please comment on this post rather than going back and commenting there. Facebook makes it hard to go back and look at comments later, and I like to keep them all in one place (here).*   :)

So. As you know, the apartment hunt continues.  I've taken to repeatedly refreshing the Rockridge/Claremont section on Craigslist, just in case something pops up before PadMapper emails me (PadMapper emails once per hour).  I've even taken to not putting in a maximum price range, because apparently I'm a masochist and I like to torture myself with listings we absolutely cannot afford (where's the parallel for my dating analogy here?) - a lovely pastime to be sure, but not one which is entirely productive.

Never mind, though. Because I found a house so lovely I can literally feel my heart leaping into my neck and dropping quickly into my stomach when I remember that we can't afford it (somehow I trick myself into forgetting temporarily as I look at the pictures and imagine living there).

I think I'll just share pictures, because if I talk about it anymore, I'll just...well, I'll just keep gushing. About a house I never should have clicked on in the first place, because lordy, we do not have $3,500 a month to spend on rent (but seriously, that's it?! For this amazing looking house?!?) *Note: We definitely don't need a house. Can I just reserve this one for a few years down the line?*  *Other note: I absolutely do have a file that I keep of houselust/inspiration*

Without further ado, the dream house:

picture-perfect craftsman, and check out that arbor!
living room with great built-ins, fireplace, windows...
more built-ins...
one of 3 bedrooms...look at those floors!
another bedroom. staged just beautifully, no?
spacious kitchen. our kitchen cart would look perfect in there.
the back bedroom (could be a lovely den/office)
built-ins. i love them.
deck, leads down to yard and garage.

It's love. Dangerous, dangerous love.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In which I compare apartment hunting to online dating

The hunt continues.  "Having a relaxing evening at home" and "eating dinner before 9pm" have been replaced by "finding a place to live" and "eating dinner at 10pm"*, and we're seeing an average of one place per night. Sometimes two. It's a frustrating experience, as anyone who has ever had to look for an apartment will attest, filled with ups and downs and a bit of bipolarity, what with the high hopes and low expectations.

I imagine apartment hunting must be similar to online dating**. You wish there was a little more information in the listing, and maybe a picture that wasn't angled and slightly out of focus. You have to act quickly, to show interest without seeming desperate. Sometimes it's already taken by the time you send the first email. Sometimes it's ugly. Sometimes it's too small.

When you try to determine whether you want to take the next step, you recognize that it doesn't quite have everything you wanted, but decide you can probably make some compromises. Nothing is perfect, after all. You worry that if you choose something, you'll miss out on something better that comes along a few days later***.  If you're picky like me, you don't take the next step very often, because you are also stubborn and don't want to sacrifice things like hardwood floors or square footage.

You probably also get your hopes up, despite your best efforts to keep expectations low. You start picturing how your furniture will look in the space before you even see it, before you realize that "huge" and "spacious" are apparently synonymous with "under 700 square feet". Oops.

Eventually, you find something with enough of what you're looking for that it makes the compromises not seem like a big deal. These same things might turn out to be dealbreakers next time around, but for now, you pack your things and move forward.

*though to be fair, this isn't always because of looking for apartments. Sometimes I get home late because of pilates/ballet. And we do a pretty good job of trying to relax afterwards, even if it means eating late or watching one less DVR'd episode of Jon Stewart.
**disclaimer: my experience in online dating is entirely based on stories from friends. Blame any inaccuracies on them.
***It's easier to stop dating someone than it is to get out of a 12 month lease though, or so I've heard.

--Please leave comments here, rather than on Facebook (you can be anonymous, or even use your Facebook account to comment if you want). I like to keep comments all in one place, and Facebook makes it hard to go back and visit those comments later.--

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Impromptu Brunch

We had a really lovely impromptu brunch this morning, featuring frittata, prosciutto-wrapped honeydew, fruit salad, various cheeses, fresh-squeezed mimosas and of course...pie.  And now, pictures!

I'm very proud of my pie.
I mean, just look at it.
(yes, I'm wearing my Homeroom tshirt)
honeydew with prosciutto
fruit salad!
The spread. Minus frittata, which was in the oven.
We do throw a good party, if I do say so myself.
mmm pie

And in case you're wondering, we didn't get the apartment we applied for :(  There were two other competitive applicants, and one of them beat us to it, time-wise. Pretty bummed, but onward go we into our search!


We happened to be in Berkeley today, and decided to take advantage of our location by stopping by the ever-wonderful Berkeley Bowl. Will had told me that we were hosting an impromptu brunch in honor of Cal Baseball's upcoming appearance in the College World Series (Sunday, Father's Day, so it's also an impromptu Father's Day brunch, I guess, except I don't think any dads are coming). Also, "Hey surprise! We're having people over!" Ok, I actually don't mind at all, and in fact, I'm excited. It gives me A) a chance to be a hostess, which (duh) I love, B) an excuse to make some fancy food, and C) practice in not freaking out if people come over and the house isn't perfectly clean and tidy.

ANYWAY. Whilst wandering aimlessly through the abundant produce section, tossing whatever looked good and fresh into the cart, I spotted rhubarb. I've wanted to buy and use rhubarb for years, but it's always gone by the time I get up the motivation to make something. This time, I snatched it up. I thought, "I'll make a strawberry-rhubarb pie! It's one of my favorite kinds of pies, and it's totally in season! YES! RHUBARB! YES!"

No seriously, that happened.

I grabbed what I thought would be an appropriate amount (because of course I didn't have any sort of recipe in mind, only inspiration) and scooped up extra strawberries as well. When I got home, I found this recipe. Thank you, Deb. It looked pretty easy, though I was missing the instant tapioca required for optimal pie texture. A brief Googling led me to believe that I really should get the tapioca, so I cruised over to Whole Foods for a (probably overpriced) box of quick cooking tapioca. Bingo! Oh, and flour. Because apparently we were out of flour. Oops. Luckily, the rhubarb and strawberries I purchased happened to be just the right amount for a beautiful pie. Meant to be, I tell you what.

Anyway, we went to look at a few apartments (including one awesome one, fingers crossed!!), and stopped for dinner, and by the time we got back, it was about 9:30pm. Too late to start making a pie? Nah. By 10pm, my crust was chillin' in the fridge. Note that I do not own a pastry cutter. I used a fork and my fingers, and it was messy but effective. I thought I would maybe make the crust tonight and make the pie itself in the morning, but it needs to cool for several hours (for maximum fruit--texture-jellosity), so late night pie it was!

pre-baked pie, circa 11:15pm
more photos here
And now?

The smell of this pie is so unbelievably delicious that it is actually making my stomach growl, despite the fact that I'm not actually hungry at all. 

Maybe I'll take some better pictures in the morning when the lighting is all nice, or maybe we'll just devour it and go "oh crap. We should have taken pictures." Either way, this pie only took like 2 hours to make, and if it tastes even half as good as it smells, I might just cry.

This is the first time I've made a pie from scratch (including the crust), and I'm honestly really proud of myself. It looks like a real pie, you guys! A REAL PIE!!!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mark. It Down

Ok, that title was weird. But my friend Alyssa is not weird. And this post is about her. And Mark. Which she sells. She contacted me recently to see if I'd be interested in hosting an online party on my blog, and duh, a way to hook people up with free stuff and share the love, helping my friend and her side business? Sign me up!

In her own words:
I "met Mark." a little over 2 years ago though a friend of mine. My initial thought was that it was good quality makeup that was a heckova lot less expensive than the products I was buying at specialty stores. So, I dove right in and became a rep after only buying a set of eyeshadows. Over the last two years, I feel like I've watched Mark. grow up. They started out primarily catered to high school and college kids, but now have really transformed and improved their quality of their products ten fold. Every time I log on I find something I am excited to share with other people. The other day I went to lunch with some of the ladies in my family and probably spent too much time gushing about my adorable new earrings that "came in a set of 3 for only $18!!!" I can really stand behind the products I'm selling and I hope that you love them as much as I do!

Aforementioned web party includes a raffle and prizes and such for y'all. Fun!

The details:

  • If you go to her site and register, you're automatically entered to win either a cute cosmetics bag or fruity lip gloss. Plus, she'll send you free samples!
  • If you spend $15, you're automatically entered to win another raffle! This one is for a gift pack, valued up to $40 (including the cosmetic bag, two eyeshadows and a case, plus a "hook up" with black mascara and a glow baby glow lip gloss).
  • For every additional $15 you spend, you'll receive an additional entry!
  • Everyone who spends $30 will automatically get a free gift from Alyssa!
  • And there are other deals going on right now toowith any $15 skincare purchase, you get a free Midi Cosmetic Bag, and when you purchase the Sassy Fragrance Mist, you get a free Sassy Dry Oil Mist! Woohoo!
So there you go! Free stuff (albeit some with purchase)! If you're interested, check it out. The products are really good, and I've known Alyssa for oh...16 years? She's good people.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cleaning Update

I came home tonight to a clean house. The bathroom (grout included) is clean. The floors are clean. The kitchen is clean. They even washed the dishes that were in the sink! And put them away! They change the sheets on our bed, and I no longer have those guilty "oh crap, it's been a while since we changed the sheets" feelings.

And it's not just clean, but tidy, too! They straighten the piles and fluff the couch cushions and fold the blankets and the place just looks a little less disheveled. Sure, it's partly because we spent a few minutes tidying up last night (gotta straighten up before the cleaners come, of course), but they just kind of polish the place up.

I walked around the condo saying, "I love coming home to a clean house" and just smiling to myself, thinking about how happy it made me. It might have taken a couple of times to get into the groove, but I am very happy to pay the folks at Mop 'N Bucket Cleaners $60 every two weeks.

If you are the kind of person who stresses out about keeping up with cleaning house, and feels badly when you can't, and you have a little extra cash, I highly recommend paying someone to lighten the load. It has significantly changed the way I look at my abilities as a homemaker housewife apartmentgirlfriend woman whatever.

Thanks again to Tricia for lighting the fire under my butt.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Putting it out there

While I have many friends and family members who are into The Secret and all that, I'm not really big on the whole "put the positive vibes out there into the universe" thing. However, with this We Have To Move thing being as it is, I figure it can't hurt to try...right? Especially if I'm all obsessive about checking PadMapper and stuff too?

We have just about 6 weeks until we have to move, and so far, it's slim pickings out there in Apartment Rentals Land. If anyone out there knows of anything (the perfect little 2-bedroom Craftsman house?), please do let me know.

Anyway, Universe, here's what we're* looking for:

  • ~850 sq ft, + storage or lots of closets - for ski gear, camping gear, hockey gear (and all our stuff)
  • parking either off-street, or easy/safe on-street
  • walking-distance to BART because we both take it to get to work
  • laundry, preferably in-unit, or with a hookup for a w/d. Shared, coin-op laundry in the building is acceptable...though I really don't want to. I'm spoiled.
  • outdoor space. We have a BBQ and two 1/2 wine barrel planters I do not want to leave behind.
  • nice kitchen. It doesn't have to be huge or sparkling new, but it should not be so small that two people can't comfortably cook together. And the appliances should work.
  • 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom - though I wouldn't say no to 2 of either! 
It would be great to have:
  • extra storage - our current place has a closet across the hall perfect for all that outdoor/sporting gear.
  • wood burning fireplace - this is the biggest "we probably won't get it" item, but our current place has one and a girl can dream, right?
  • outdoor space for gardening, like real dirt, ya know? a yard?
  • hardwood floors
  • a building with character - sadly, many of the cooler, older buildings don't have parking or laundry, but they do exist somewhere. I'm convinced of it. 
  • dishwasher
  • garbage disposal
  • loads of natural light
  • magical fairies and unicorns to fluff my pillow and present me with gold coins

We're paying $1500 right now (I know, it's a great deal - shut up, Lyz, with your gorgeous and affordable house in Iowa), and we can afford to go a little higher. I'd prefer to stay well under $1800. Like, maybe, $1600 or even $1700.  I guess I'm thinking up to $1800 if it has EVERYTHING on the list. 

My request is officially Out There, In The Universe. So...apartment. Where are you?

*I say "we're" because, well, I'm writing this on behalf of us. It should be noted, however, that Will doesn't actually care about some of this stuff. For example, he'd be fine with the shared, coin-op laundry, and he's usually convinced we can fit into a smaller apartment. But for the purposes of this's "we're." And looking back over the list...he cares more than I do about the hardwood floors and character and I care more about gardening space and space in general. So...teamwork.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wise words from Amy Poehler

I finally had a chance to watch Amy Poehler's speech at the 2011 Harvard Commencement ceremony, and I loved it so much I thought I'd share it here. It's been a while since I've done the old "here's something I found online" blog post, and this one is worth sharing.

My favorite part:
"I moved to Chicago in the early 1990's, and I studied improvisation there. I learned some rules that I try to apply, still today.
  • Listen.
  • Say yes.
  • Live in the moment.
  • Make sure you play with people who have your back.
  • Make big choices, early and often.
  • Don't start a scene where two people are talking about jumping out of a plane. Start the scene having already jumped.
  • If you're scared, look into your partner's eyes. You will feel better."

"...when you feel scared, hold someone's hand and look into their eyes. And when you feel brave, do the same thing."

I've always said that the time I spent with ComedySportz was some of the most formative, positive, wonderful time of my life. I know other folks who have histories with Improv feel the same way (even CNN wrote about it), and it was lovely to hear Amy Poehler put the feelings into such true words.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

We're Moving

We're moving.

Our landlords contacted us last night to let us know that unfortunately, they would not be able to renew our lease, which is up at the end of July. For personal reasons, they want to move back to the condo, and well, they own it, and they're not breaking the lease or anything, so it's totally within their rights. And I understand why they want to move back. But I'm still sad about it.

Ok, let me cry for a minute. I feel like we've barely gotten settled here. I mean, we've hardly finished unpacking. Only a week ago, I finished mounting the final HDMI cable with wall clips so that it looks nice and neat. I've just started settling into routines, enjoying my morning walk, decorating and planting things on the patio. Just in the last few months, I've started to feel one hundred percent at home here, in this condo, in this neighborhood. I have ballet and pilates just up the street. I stop by Whole Foods on my way home from work, and I finally feel like I've reached the point where I feel...settled. The thought of uprooting and starting new, again, is daunting. And sad.

Honestly, there are two parts to this: the frustration of having to move again and the sadness of leaving a place that I genuinely love. Sure, it doesn't have the Craftsman charm or a gas stove or floods of natural light, but it had everything else on our list (and more). I've really come to love it here. I love that when it's cold out, Will can make a fire. And I love that our patio is large enough for a small couch, table, chairs, and delightful potted plants. I love the way our stuff fits. I know it's kind of silly, but as I sit here and look around, I really like the way our things fit. I love the linen closet and the coat closet and the storage closet across the hall. Of course, I'd love a bigger kitchen and dining room, but our things fit just fine. I knew that we would move eventually, but I really thought we had another year or two in this space. And it makes me sad to look around at what feels like home and realize that in less than two months, it won't be.

The frustration comes from the fact that I've been moving or thinking about moving for the last 12 months. We officially started looking for a new place last April/May (we had started casually looking in August), and found it in July. We were still unpacking in the fall, when I started working at Disqus. By December, I was starting to plan an office move at work. I'm still wrapping up the move at work, and now we have to start looking for apartments again. I mean, what?! That's three moves in 12 months. And don't they say that moving is one of the top stressors in modern life? I believe it. Thinking about moving again right now (or ok, in the next 7 weeks - SEVEN WEEKS OMG) is seriously worrisome. I'm afraid I'm going to develop that eye twitch again.

All that said, I know it will be ok. And I feel like a major idiot for crying about this while there are people out there who have lost their entire homes to tornadoes, floods, and the like. There are people who are losing their homes because the banks are screwing them. There are people losing their lives, their loved ones, and so so so very much more than I can imagine losing. I know that. I know it's just a condo. I know that we are lucky to be able to afford to move again; even though it wasn't quite in the budget, it's not going to break the bank. And I know that we will find something. I know that being sad, thinking that we might have to downgrade or give up some of the things we've been spoiled by over the last 10 months is well...sort of lame. But you know what? I'm still sad.

In typical Type A, Control Freak Kim fashion, I started looking for places as soon as I processed the contents of our landlords' email. I was in a little bit of a state of shock, and instantly, my fingers drifted to Craigslist (I wasn't thinking clearly, or obviously I would have gone directly to PadMapper). This morning, I opened up a PadMapper account so that Will and I can easily track our apartment interests, and I set up a bunch of email alerts for different geographic regions, based on where we looked a year ago. I will probably cry about this several more times over the next 7 weeks, but gosh darn it if I won't start taking action. It's what I do.

For now, I suppose the hunt is on. I'm glad that I didn't start my "frame and hang a bunch of pictures on the walls" project...or sell the washer/dryer (thanks for taking care of it, Jenny and Jeff). And hey, maybe we'll find a nice place with everything this place has and more! Who knows? Miracles can happen!

I'll do my best to keep the blog updated so you can all play along. And if you're looking for a little humor, here are some posts I wrote for Berkeleyside during last year's apartment hunt.

Enjoy! And if you are the praying/well-wishing/sending-positive-vibes-out-into-the-universe type, please wish us luck (or whatever).