We’re here

I feel like I have been lost in space and time for a while, and now I’m finally ready to regroup. One day I woke up and I was married, in my 30s, and living in California. Whoa!

First impressions of our new home:

I love our house. It is perfect for us. I realize now how many things were wrong with our place and how much we put up with over the last few years. Plus, we had so much yard, garage, basement, etc. I think it became too much for us to manage.

My favorite part of the house is our bedroom window. We have sheer curtains that face the Berkeley hills. At night all the lights in the houses kind of twinkle on the hillside.

I don’t have a nighttime photo, so you’ll have to use your imagination.

I’m also in love with the size of my office/craft room. It’s huge!

There was an extra mattress down here when we moved in, so even the dogs have a bed. Not the most attractive decor, but I had to do something with all that space in the middle of the room.

Since our garage is small, we moved a lot of our ugly storage containers to this room, so I put up a little curtain to hide them. Now I need to make some curtains for the bare windows. I’m not much of a seamstress, but I think I can handle that. Suggestions welcome!

Our neighborhood is nowhere near as cute as Beaverdale, but we do have awesome neighbors. During those first few tired confusing days, Michael and Meri loaned us whatever we needed and brought us warm cranberry bread and just generally made us feel welcome. That meant a lot.

Living here makes me realize that I’ve never lived anywhere with actual traffic or actual diversity. You can get pretty much anything you want here (not only does every store have a nearby location, most of them have 2 or 3), but you have to get there first. And I have never spent so much time sitting in traffic or circling parking lots for a spot. Even at the grocery store or Target! On the plus side, you can always walk, ride your bike, or take the BART if you need to get somewhere sans car.

One thing that makes me laugh is that Berkeley, just like Boulder, has the unofficial car. In Boulder it was a Subaru, but here it’s definitely a Volvo station wagon. I’m kind of pining for one now.

Another small but interesting thing. The garbage cans (the brown ones) are much smaller than the compost and recycling cans.

You can put food waste and even paper milk containers into your compost bin, which I love. I’m not sure if it’s out of eco-friendliness or lack of landfill space, but it works for me.

At the moment I am obsessed with this grocery store called the Berkeley Bowl. It’s like a hippie natural foods store mixed with a Whole Foods mixed with a regular grocery store. So you can get pretty much anything there rather than making three separate trips. They even make their own peanut butter!

I am hoarding these organic yogurts that have a layer of cream on top and fruit on the bottom. Yum yum yum.

The weather seems to be pretty simple. In winter it is either foggy, raining, or both, pretty much every day. I do miss seeing the sun. I don’t miss shoveling snow or driving on ice. Most days it’s light jacket weather, but some days I have even had on short sleeves. People here dress as if it’s full-on winter, which makes me giggle. I’m sure we’ll completely wimp out in a matter of time.

One thing we never get tired of is the view from the top of the hill we live on. As soon as you get over the crest you see the bay, and if it’s clear enough off in the distance, the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco.

If you squint hard, you can see the bridge behind that light pole.

The whole fog thing is no joke.

Sometimes I forget SF is even over there because I spend pretty much all of my time in the east bay. But it’s there, and even on a crummy day it’s gorgeous.

Last Sunday Mike decided he needed to see the Pacific for the first time, so we drove over to Marin County to Muir Beach. It was getting dark, but you could still see the waves crashing onto big rocks and a couple of kayakers out in the distance.

Then we had dinner at this cute little British pub and drove the incredibly windy road back home (only about 1/2 an hour).

We have a lot of exploring left to do, and it will be hard not to be home for Christmas. But I’d say we’re pretty happy in our new home.

Headin’ west

The drive to our new home in California was pretty simple: Get on I-80, go west.

Really – we live very close to an entrance ramp for I-80, so it was pretty easy to get here. For the most part the drive was long, with lots of miles in between towns. The snowy mountain ranges were beautiful (and thankfully not snowy on the actual roads). I loved our stop in Salt Lake City, and want to go back sometime. The wind in Wyoming was unbelievable!

We ended up mailing three boxes of stuff that wouldn’t fit in the car and we still crammed more stuff than you would believe into our tiny Yaris. But the dogs curled up on their makeshift bed and pretty much slept through the whole trip.

In pictures…

My Des Moines Top 5

I had to bid Des Moines farewell, but I thought I’d tip my hat to what I believe is a vastly underestimated city by giving you my Des Moines Top 5 (once upon a time a feature I put together for Juice magazine).

1. The East Village. OK, so maybe it’s cheating to make a whole neighborhood one item, but I really do think this part of town has become the heartbeat of the city. All of the independent business owners that adopted this neighborhood have made it into an extraordinary place to shop, eat, and socialize. I appreciate all the shops that carry local handmade goodies (Ephemera, Vitae, Domestica, Porch Light Antiques…), I’ve always loved the sights and smells at Eden, and I am definitely rocking my Raygun T-shirts here on the west coast.

2. A Dong. Mike and I probably ate at this Vietnamese restaurant more than we ate anywhere else in the city. Mostly because of the vegetarian options (yummy noodle soups and crispy egg rolls), but we grew to have a soft spot for the servers like Thai and Neal.

3. The crafty community. Thinking about the people I met in Des Moines through my crafty endeavors and won’t see everyday is probably the thing that gets me the most teary about leaving Iowa. I was just blown away by the talent in Des Moines and the drive that locals had to create events like Craft Saturday and Market Day. Creativity is so important to the growth of a community, and Des Moines has it in spades.

4. Beaverdale. I’m so glad I got to spend the last four years of my time in Des Moines in this great neighborhood. The brick houses, quiet streets and friendly neighbors are like something out of a movie, but it really exists. I will truly miss those Snookies’ ice cream cones in the summertime.

5. My yogis. It sounds totally cliche, but it’s totally true — Yoga changed my life. If I hadn’t met Sandi Hoover from The Family Tree back when she was teaching at Firehouse (now Harmony), I don’t know where I’d be. Both of those studios are alive and well, and you should definitely check them out if you haven’t yet.

Fall in Beaverdale.