Home Hunting: What’s important to you?

costal, homes, californiaMy next adventure? Looking for a new place to live with Paul.  The apartment we have now is fine, but we want a little more room for visitors.  I’ve been through this chore, but never with a significant other.  I have to remember to ask him what he thinks about a place. But there are a few things everyone should take into account when deciding where to live.  I’ve come up with six because that’s all I could think of, but I am certain there are more…

  1. Distance from work.  I don’t know about you, but commuting is for suckers. Sitting in the car for more than 20 minutes is not something I want to do on a regular basis.  This means our search radius is about 10 miles or so, depending on freeway/highway configurations.  Of course, the closer in you are to a downtown central business district core, the more you will pay.  While we might get more for our money out in the far reaches of the ‘burbs, we will also be further away from my office.
  2. Grocery stores.  Seriously, if you live near a sucky grocery store, you know how important this condition is.  For years I lived close to a crappy grocery store.  Never again!  I want to shop without having to dodge stock. I want to be able to get what I want and not stare at empty shelves!  I want to be able to browse an olive bar even if I will never actually purchase anything from it.
  3. Vibe. This isn’t something you can necessarily describe because it’s just a feeling.  Do you feel at home when you are in the place? Do you feel safe walking to your car? Are there kids around who need to get off your lawn? Is there a random barking dog that hasn’t stopped in the last 15 minutes? Do you like the way the light comes into the living space? Can you hear the people on the sidewalk talking about their shih tzu? Do you want to even be there?  Some of these things aren’t deal breakers, but they might be things that push your decision one way or the other.
  4. Parking. If you have ever lived in a place with limited to no parking, you know how important this item can be.  Is there a garage? Is there plenty of street parking? Is there a lot? Where can visitors park? Having lived in San Francisco where it was a dog eat dog parking world, I refuse to go through that again and don’t want to worry about where to put my car after having been away from home.
  5. Amenities. I hate having to use a common laundry facility. I will do it if I have to, but I prefer having my own washer and dryer. It sucks not being able to do laundry whenever I want. No one is going to inhibit my ability to have clean underwear! Plus, it’s already a chore. Who wants to lug their dirty clothes up and down three flights of stairs? Also, we must have air conditioning.  In California, it had to be central or I wouldn’t live there.  Here in the Twin Cities, I think we can survive with the in wall/window kind.
  6. Floor plan. I want a place that is big enough to have Thanksgiving dinner. I don’t mean hosting 20 people in a grand affair, but being able to have eight people sit at the same table would be nice.  You know, like a grown up.  Also, no more than two bathrooms.  As my grandmother says, if you have three bathrooms, one is always dirty.  But one bathroom in a home is way too few.  We could survive with one, but I’d rather pay for the convenience. It will be worth every cent.

My Furniture Obsession or Why I Love IKEA

Have you ever noticed the smell of furniture from IKEA?  It’s there. Maybe it’s the scent of Swedish meatballs combined with particleboard that makes me want to buy build it yourself furniture.  Or maybe it’s genetic.  As I’ve previously stated,  pretty well known fact that the women in my family have this thing with rearranging the furniture in their houses.  My sister doesn’t really seem to have it, but I know my mom, my aunt and my grandmother all have it.  There’s nothing wrong with it.  It doesn’t cost anyone anything to move a couch to the other side of the room.

Now that I’m living with Paul in Minnesota, all of the furniture in the apartment is his…until today!  I needed, yes needed, a place to put some of my clothes.  So, we went to IKEA the other day because where else can you get really cool inexpensive furniture?

Also, we saw another Snoopy on his doghouse statue.

Peanuts, IKEA, Snoopy, Woodstock

Anyway, I already have pieces in the MALM series, so I figured I might as well get one more to go with what I already have so when I can get my furniture to be shipped out here, it will match.

IKEA is a little dangerous.  Everything there is fairly inexpensive and I do enjoy buying new pieces of furniture…you can see where I’m going here.  Luckily, being temporarily unemployed helps keep my spending habits under control.

furniture, IKEA, bedroom

There is something satisfying about putting together a piece of furniture.  Sure, I wanted to quit halfway through, but I powered on and made myself complete the task.  I love it!  Now I just have to gather the energy and the strength to put my clothes in it.  Like my mom told me before I moved…living out of a suitcase gets old fast.

What time is it?

Time zonesSince I’m currently seeking employment, I don’t have a regular daytime routine.  Also, since I recently moved across two time zones and into a place with my boyfriend, I have quite a bit to get used to…many changes happened over the last week.  Not to mention that thing in Wyoming

The weather might be contributing to my confusion too.  It’s supposed to be spring, but there’s snow and it’s cold. But it stays light until 8:00 PM, which is very anti-winter.

For the past few days, my inner clock has been off.  My natural night owl is coming out.  My bedtime seems to hover around midnight.

Add to that when I look at the clock and see it’s 5:00 PM, my brain goes, “Wha? It feels like 2:00 PM.”

Call it jet lag (even though I didn’t fly) or maybe I just need a job so I can feel a sense of routine.  However, I am enjoying spending all this time with Paul. It might be driving him crazy, but he’s not showing it.  Did I mention he works from home? So, he’s grinding away at whatever it is he does, while I sit as quietly as I can on the couch searching on the web for some sort of career oriented task to make money to contribute to the household.

One good thing, I’m living in the Central Time Zone.  When I was a kid, I was jealous of the people who lived in this time zone.  They got to see all of the prime time shows an hour earlier than everyone!  8/7 Central? Not fair!

Now, I’m living the dream.  Well, living with Paul is my real dream, but being in the Central Time Zone is a big bonus.

Road Trip to Minnesota: Day 5 – South Dakota & Home

Drove past this on our way to a "pit stop."

Drove past this on our way to a “pit stop.”

We woke up in Rapid City.  South Dakota has always had a place in my heart.  Members of my family are from the western part of the state.  It’s been one of my goals to visit those roots.  But, we had a bigger goal in mind…getting home!  So, we set off for the 10 hour drive.  Maybe it was only 8 hours.  At this point in the trip, Paul and I were both just eager to not be in the car anymore.  Our collective sanity was beginning to wane.

However, I thoroughly enjoyed my drive through the Mount Rushmore State.  The numerous signs to Wall Drug caught my eye.  Next time, we will stop there.  The landscape was beautiful.  We missed the Black Hills because it was dark when we hit the state line the day before, but we will be back there one day to see the places my forebears lived.

I was still looking forward to the flat prairie area.  To me, it seemed more rolling hills than flat.  The Central Valley in California is flatter than the area along I-90 that I saw.  It wasn’t until we were almost out of South Dakota that the flatness appeared.  Maybe it’s further south.  Some day I might find out.

One of the wonders of technology let Paul and I stop in Sioux Falls, South Dakota to have dinner with a couple of his friends as a brief respite from our eastern trek.

Home sweet home

Home sweet home

Then it was onward to Minnesota!  I didn’t realize how far south I-90 is in the state that is now my home.  We weren’t very far from the Iowa border.  Some day, I’ll get to that state, but neither Paul nor I are very eager to get back in an automobile for any significant length of time.

It was dark and late when we finally made it home to Saint Paul, but made it we did.   My Beetle is here with me.  It survived the frigid temperatures of Wyoming and seems to be happy in the cool quasi-winter/pre-spring climate of Minnesota. Thank goodness because I need it to help me find a job.  I’m very excited to explore my new surroundings, too.  The Twin Cities  have much to offer.

Road Trip to Minnesota: Day 3 & 4 – Wyoming, Again!

Park your Tauntaun anywhere.

Park your Tauntaun anywhere.

We woke up ready to make the long trek to Omaha.  Apparently mother nature had other ideas.  We made it all the way to Rawlins when the road closed…AGAIN.  Granted it was snowing like hell and pretty treacherous out there, but we just wanted to keep on trucking.  This time we got further into Wyoming, but still nowhere near the Nebraska border.  So, we hunkered down, again, with everyone else who had been trapped along I-80 in Wyoming for the past two days.  Hotel rooms were scarce after 12:00 noon.

Day 4:  Still…in…Wyoming…  We had a plan.  Wake up at dawn and hit the road.  The snow finally stopped.  The sun was shining, but the wind was still blowing.  I’m pretty sure the wind never stops blowing in Wyoming.  Also, here’s a tip if you plan to travel across country, avoid Wyoming.   The only time it seems to be OK to cross is June through August.  I’ve heard that it can snow on July 4th, so be warned.

Regardless, determined to get the hell out of that state, we hopped in the car and made it all the way to Laramie before they shut down I-80 again.  It was maddening.  The sun was shining in Laramie, how could it be treacherous 50 miles down the road?  OK, fine.  It wasn’t the best conditions even to Laramie.  The wind was blowing like hell and snow was swirling everywhere.  We saw three different vehicles go off the road. I blame the drivers being stupid more than the road conditions.

Same state, south is icy, north is dry

Same state, south is icy, north is dry

Luckily, my friend Christi and her boyfriend met us for lunch in Laramie.  They were a HUGE help.  They broke the news that I-80 was unlikely to reopen again that day, but there was another way out of the state.  We headed north on some state highways, or as I like to call them, very nice back roads, to get to I-25 and then I-90.  So, north we went to Gillette and then finally east to Rapid City, South Dakota.

All I know is that we celebrated getting the hell out of Wyoming once we finally got to South Dakota.  I do have one last question for Wyoming.  What’s up with the red freeways?  The asphalt was red colored on I-25 and I-90.  It might be that way in South Dakota too, but it was dark by the time we arrived.

Road Trip to Minnesota: Day 2 – Wyoming

parking lot, freeway, travelWe woke up to a cold, snowy morning in Salt Lake City.  A text message from my friend in Laramie was beeping.  I’m so thankful for Christi.  She kept me and Paul updated on road conditions and survival tips.  Apparently, traversing I-80 during a snowstorm isn’t a smart idea.  Of course, we waited until mid-April thinking such weather events would be in the past.  Sadly, no.

We climbed through the mountains of Utah and into Wyoming.  It took forever to get to Wyoming and the weather quickly deteriorated.

Did I mention that I have never driven in snow before?  I’ve been a passenger many times, but never actually drove a vehicle in such conditions.  This was definitely a trial by fire…or ice.

Paul was great at giving me advice, “Just as fast as you feel comfortable. Take it slow and easy.”  Snow was drifting across the freeway like a really weird fog machine at a rock show.  In other places, the snow was piling up, so I just followed the tire mark.

About 50 miles into Wyoming, we decide that we’ve had enough and start looking for someplace to stay the night.  I-80 was shut down about 150 miles east of us anyway, so we weren’t going to get to Laramie anyway.  We had planned to stay with Christi, but sadly it was not to be.

Finally, we happened upon Little America.  It was an oasis.  There was a hotel, restaurant, and gas station.  We could safely hunker down there until the next day.

Road Trip to Minnesota: Day One

You can follow our hashtag too!

You can follow our hashtag too!

Anyone who has ever moved as an adult hates packing.  Even though I purged and purged, I was still forced to leave crap behind in California.  The essentials, sadly not including wine, were all that would fit into my Beetle.

In a frenzy, I had to decide what was needed (clothes for job interviews) and what could wait, (wine, fancy shoes, and some toiletries).  Half way through Nevada, I realized that I should have stashed at least one or two bottles of wine in some nook and/or cranny.

The first leg of our trip took us to Salt Lake City, 10 hours of driving.  Here’s the thing, Nevada is REALLY boring outside of Reno and Las Vegas.  Also, I’m so goddamn tired of driving my car over mountain passes.  I’m looking forward to the flatness of Nebraska.  I say that now…

One awesome thing in Nevada is the Deeth Starr Valley exit.  At this point, you are probably delirious with boredom, so Deeth Starr is obviously Death Star.  Just look at the tips people have left:

social media, travel

star wars quote, social media, travel

OK, that’s funny regardless.

For the first time in my life, I had to drive while it was snowing.  It was just a snow shower and nothing was really sticking to the ground, but it was a first nonetheless.

Finally, around 10:00 PM we made it to Salt Lake City.  Apparently there were some salt flats we passed.  I don’t know what visual trick goes on in my brain, but it was reflective like water.  I guess there are flat surfaces on the NaCl that reflect light like water.  Sorry to get all science-y (and probably wrong) there.

The only thing that kept me from going crazy was Paul, of course.  We traded off the driving duties and tried to keep each other entertained.  It’s nice to have someone else in the car, especially someone who makes me laugh so much.  I’m not used to long drives without either being alone or surrounded by family.


P.S. When Paul arrived at the airport, this is how I greeted him:

sign, greeting, social media, love

I was the crazy lady wearing a tiara and holding a sign at the airport.  Hopefully, I inspired someone to be a little crazy in the name of love because it certainly makes for an interesting anecdote.