After a month of living in a corporate apartment, we moved to our own apartment at the end of April. From living downtown, we now have a home in East Bay. From the convenience of being provided everything that we need, we faced the problem of furnishing our unit. We arrived with just the basic furnishings: a microwave, oven, dish washer and a refrigerator. Other than that the unit was empty.
This is where I learned apartment interior design 101. I didn’t have any prior experience in home furnishing. But then, if there is a will, there’s always a way. First, I decided that our corporate apartment will be our model unit.
(take note all the fixtures are black)
The unit was just the right size, it was simple yet it looks elegant. But with 6000/month rental in the corporate apartment, it came with expensive furniture that I couldn’t possibly imitate. I settled with copying the layout, colors and decorations. This is what I came up with.
I browsed for inspirations online:
These sites made me dream that someday, I will be in full control of the house I’ll decorate. The possibilities are endless!
And then, came the difficult decision of finding the right items. From hundreds of choices, it was a challenge to come up with a final decision and click that order button.
I bought a study desk. I needed it for my late night phonecalls with our team in India. I couldn’t do it in the sala because habs is usually playing with his wii U in the living room with high volume. I needed somewhere comfortable to sit and to make the calls and face my laptop at night.
I got a chair. An ergonomic one for my back. I thought I got a good deal for $70 bucks for this one. I always check out the chairs at IKEA and I’m pretty sure that this would cost at least $150 there.
Our 3-drawer dresser.
One of our end tables. Our apartment doesn’t have cieling lights in the living room. Which makes lamp shades a required accessory in the house. Otherwise, it would always be pitch dark near the sofa. So we got some lampshades too:
I loooove this! It’s touch controlled. I’m planning to buy another one exactly like it.
Lampshades for the living room. This comes in pair.
And our biggest purchase yet (aside from the TV), our dining table. I’m quite happy with the way the dining set turned out. It looks exactly like the ones I saw in the picture when I ordered it online. And when it was finally assembled, it looks really nice! I’m so glad I found this.
Those were some of the stuffs that we have now. We can almost say that now we have a home. I am loving the fact that it was like working on a black canvass, slowly, it’s all coming together. Almost all of our furnitures, I got online. Because we don’t drive yet, I found it more convenient to have everything delivered. Saves us the trouble of figuring out how to get the stuffs from the store to our unit. I still have some things on my list… But I figured we got all the necessities by now. The more that I explore online shopping, the more I find things that I want. It takes a great deal of control and resistance not to over do it. And even with the in mind, I still get bothered by this thought – what if we don’t last long here? What will happen to all this, all the expenses that we ended up spending? Then I tell myself, it’s not right to think that way and that I should reverse my way of thinking.
Moving to a new place is like a relationship. If you don’t think you’d end up together in the end anyway, it’s useless to pursue. Same goes with our new life here… hard as it may seem at the moment, we need to think positively and hope for the best.
I was reading “Wild Swans” by Jung Chan for like forever. I started it in December last year, read through it during my last 3 months in Singapore and now I’m half way through the book. It started to feel endless and very slow so I thought I’d read another book until I find the urge again to finish Wild Swans.
And that was how I found, “Nothing to Envy” by Barbara Demick.
Nothing to Envy is a historical narrative of 6 North Korean refuge from Chongjin, a remote northern village of the country. I had always been fascinated by North Korea popularly called “Hermit Country” by journalists around the world. And the book filled in all the gaps that I had about the country. Why did the North Koreans cried hysterically when their Dear Leader died? How does the country manage and maintain Pyongyang as their Showcase city? How do they filter the good from the bad and who gets the privilege life and who gets to be the lower class? At around the time that country was hit by famine… I realized that I was just starting kindergarten. I was filled with emotions when Mi-ran, one of the 6 North Koreans interviewed, described her students. The way they all started to drop one by one too weak to continue going to school with their hungry stomachs. The events that transpired in the books, especially the difficult years of the country are all very recent (the famine happened in the early 90′s) that I really feel for the victims. While ordinary citizens outside NKorea are discovering the benefits of technology, internet and other benefits of the 21st century, North Korea was moving backwards.
The real wonder of this book is that it gave me a whole new perspective about my own country. I always thought that we had the worst government. Our political system is full of corruptions, political dynasties and all the colorful hoobaloos that makes up the Philippine politics. I read this book and told myself, not really. We are still lucky that we have democracy. Sometimes, it takes looking in a different direction to appreciate what is right in front of you.
I spent the first 30 years of my life in a tropical country. Where I grew up, there were only two kinds of weather, sunny and rainy. There were typhoons and floods after big thunderstorms. But we never had the four seasons that we always see in movies and read in books.
We arrived in San Francisco in March just in time when Spring was starting. The only thing that I know about SF weather is that it’s perfect – it’s not too hot and it’s not too cold. I’m still yet to experience what the four seasons look like.
So here are some pictures of what Spring in SF looks like… at least from what our eyes can see.
At Union Square
Cherry Trees at Japan Town
A restaurant near the AT&T Park which I took while we were walking around the area one Saturday morning
Our first visit at the Golden Gate bridge together
Around the streets downtown -
Flowers of all colors and kinds are all over the place. Aren’t they lovely?
We moved in to our new apartment last weekend. We restrained ourselves from buying anything (except the necessities) on our first month so when we moved, we still had just the basic stuffs with us.
Because we don’t have much to carry , we just took a cab from downtown SF to the East Bay where our new apartment is located. A normal cab would not be able to carry this much luggage though so we made sure to request for a hybrid SUV. It took one trip to have them transported. We arrived at an empty unit:
And realized how much we need to buy to start over.
On our first weekend in our new apartment,
We didn’t have a bed
Nothing to sit on
No kitchen utensils so we couldn’t eat
No bathroom towels or mats so before our first shower, we had to buy them first.
We had a fridge but since there was no pitcher or any glasses, we didn’t have any water container.
We had no soap or dishwashing liquid in the sink
In other words, there really was nothing. We spent the next two days running around the nearby grocery stores to get all the basic stuffs.
We got a bed from IKEA,
And a sofa too,
We got a bunch of kitchen utensils and bathroom stuffs from Target.
(Yes, I bought the red ones… Para maiba naman… and ang ganda ng colors!)
And I got these online. Presenting, my lovely dinner wares:
And we bought grocery supplies worth for the next 5 days at Pak n Save. The location of our new home is perfect, both are walking distance from us. There’s also a nearby Best Buy, Toys R Us and a coffee shop for my coffee fix.
And, the neighbor hood is lovely.
We just couldn’t help but notice….. Kami lang talaga ang naglalakad dito!
I am thankful.
There’s so many blessings in our family that I thank God every day for all the good things He had bestowed upon us.
Dear Lord, if I haven’t said it often enough, THANK YOU. Salamat po.
The HEARTS murals in Union Square and I, we go long way back.
I met them in 2008 on my first visit here. On our second day, we checked out the places and did some preliminary shopping.
They were sitting right there waiting… And they quickly became my Trevi Fountain ala SF.
Every time that I visit, I always make it a point to stop by and check out the latest displays. The paintings are auctioned off and change annually.
I travelled with Seema my teammate at that time.
My last visit was in 2010.
And the Jucqs visited me for a weekend.
So now after the move, it was with great pleasure to go back to the hearts and whisper a silent thanks no matter how silly that sounds… For me, they signify hope. Hope that someday you could come back and there would be a place to return to.
I Left My Heart in San Francisco
by Tony Benette
The loveliness of Paris seems somehow sadly gay
The glory that was Rome is of another day
I’ve been terribly alone and forgotten in Manhattan
I’m going home to my city by the Bay
I left my heart in San Francisco
High on a hill, it calls to me
To be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars
The morning fog may chill the air, I don’t care
My love waits there in San Francisco
Above the blue and windy sea
When I come home to you, San Francisco
Your golden sun will shine for me
More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/t/tony_bennett/
Found this youtube too.
We are slowly coping with our new life here.
I wake up at 7 in the morning to prepare for work. I am out of the door by 8am and I’ll walk down the next block where our office is located. I would usually stop by either Starbucks or Noah’s bagel to get either a yogurt or a bread for breakfast. Then I’ll stop by the lobby where there is always freshly brewed Tully’s coffee. By the time I get to my desk, it’s 8:07 and start the day’s work. The normal call time in the office as I had observed in 2 weeks is before 9am. But because we live so near, I chose to get there by 8am. I actually like this new routine better than my old one. In Singapore, I wake up at 5:30 am, get on calls at 6, leave the house by 9:30 and reach my desk before 11am. It’s nice to go back to normal and I like the morning feel of things now.
At around 5:30 in the afternoon my work is done and the sun is still up. Habs would be waiting for me downstairs ready for another walking expedition around Market St. We would just walk aimlessly looking for either dinner or Walgreens to replenish our grocery stock. We’ve tried Vietnamese, Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, Thai … and we plan to make the most out of our first month to try some more variety of what San Francisco have to offer. We do some shopping here and there: I’m trying to improve my office clothes because in the sf office everything is a bit more formal than what I was accustomed to. I now wear mostly long sleeves with belted pants and high heeled boots to work. I never ever did that in SG. It comes with the new job where I need to face and talk to business users who are all sharply dressed. I don’t cook (yet) because we are trying to eat less rice. Plus, it’s a good way to experience the food scene here.
We try to explore the downtown area as much as we could. The beauty of our corporate apartment and our office is we could walk to places. We had tons of restaurants to chose from and we explore the area by feet.
We’ll be back at the apartment around 8 or 9 depending on how far we end up walking to. We’ll rest a bit – which essentially means that hubby would play either DOTA or Sim City while watching TV and I get busy with my phone and iPad. Then I’ll start my calls which is becoming a daily habit. I call the Philippines almost every night, thanks to Vonage’s unlimited calls to Globe mobile. I call more frequently here than I did back in Singapore where I was limited with 2 top up cards a month.
So what have we seen so far?
We saw some (cherry blossoms which signals Spring) near the Gateway Apartment, the old apartment that I stayed at back in 2008.
We learned that bikers are allowed to take their bikes (not the foldable ones mind you) to the train and there are a lot of them in the train cars on weekends.
We visited a distant relative in her home last weekend and saw San Francisco’s famous steep and inclined streets.
We wake up to this beautiful view from our glass walled apartment.
Habs walked to the Piers alone one day while I was at work and saw the sunbathing Sea Lions by the docks
And he captured a view of the bay in a glorious sunny day
We made a few visit to Union Square and saw my most favorite part of the city, the Hearts of SF.
And here we are in the middle of one of our walks trying to capture the moment: