I made a coffee table!

Okay I didn’t physically build it, but I did stain it!

Below is a photo gallery of the beautiful pine coffee table we bought off Craigslist for $120 and it’s transition as I sanded it, stained it, and finally made it shiny. I followed step by step directions from the Home and Garden network’s website. It really wasn’t that bad. But, this table was raw pine, and had not been stained before. I don’t know if I would have the patience to sand off an already stained table by hand–that would take forever!

Table– $120
Hardware supplies– $30
~4 hours of my time– free!

A Fair in Japantown and seals!

Today was our first official fun day in San Francisco. It was also the first day we did not work on a “project” for the house. Hooray!

We set out around noon for the 39th Annual Nihonmachi festival in Japantown. There were a variety of craft tables, beautiful ceramics, and food trucks. For lunch we went with some tasty seafood ramen noodles with shrimp tempura on top. This went perfectly with the bag of Japanese candy that we bought a few minutes later. We got fruit gummies, chocolate covered pretzels shaped like mushrooms, and of course some Pocky sticks. Walking through a stationary store nearby really brought back memories of going to school in Japan. All of the fancy mechanical pencils and the erasers shaped like mini bento boxes. I even found the erasers that smell like different kinds of soda! After watching several performances of Hawaiian and Tahitian hula, we hopped on the bus back to our apartment.

Ever since I got to San Francisco, Ashwin has been promising that we’ll go to the pier and see the sea lions. Snickers decided today was the day, so she got her coat and we all piled into the car. Driving north, it was clear that this was a tourist hot spot. I was expecting just a pier, literally a dock. Instead, this was a full out boardwalk with 3 levels of wooden board floors. Luckily, dogs were allowed seemingly everywhere. Moving through the crowd got tricky at times, but often people were too busy staring at the “Lassie dog” to care if we squeezed by them.

Our first stop was to see the sea lions. About twenty lazy mammals stretched out on square floating docks in front of a crowd of people taking pictures from the dock. We held the dogs up so they could check them out. When the first sea lion made a noise, Meeko’s ears went straight forward. She was definitely interested! We were both hoping that Snickers would growl at the sea lions, but she just watched from her perch in Ashwin’s arms.

After exploring some of the boardwalk, Snickers was getting tired and refusing to walk at our pace. Ashwin graciously agreed to carry her for the rest of the time. As you can see in the pictures, Queen Snickers was perfectly happy to relax upside down in Ashwin’s arms. Such a baby! On our walk back to the car she was putting smiles on many faces.

I am really excited to begin exploring more of the city. In other news, I finally found a good Pho place walking distance from our apartment in Chinatown!

Madrid, Mah-drid

Tuesday morning I headed out once again to the scenic byway Turquoise Route. My first stop was at Henderson Store, the only recommended shop in Golden, New Mexico according to my Turquoise tourist map from the hotel.

Pulling open the wooden screen door, I walked into a store filled with jewelry, pottery and other gifts. Glass cases ran along the perimeter of the store. It felt like a mix between a museum and a market. I don’t own a lot of jewelry, but the main pieces I wear are my bone gauged earrings and big silver cuffs I’ve gotten from other Native American artists. These kinds of jewelry fit my style, but I did not own any big “statement piece” necklaces. I bought a big, heavy silver and turquoise necklace made partially out of old silver coins, a skinnier turquoise bracelet that is lightweight enough for me to type without taking it off, and a pair of earrings for my sister. The owners of the store were very nice, and patient with me while I looked over each case. It seemed that every time the door opened, they were greeting another loyal customer and catching up with how their lives were going.

I’m the kind of shopper who would rather buy now and exchange later, rather than running around to all kinds of shops and trying to remember what I liked enough to go back and buy. I wrote a check with the biggest number I have ever spent on jewelry, and continued down the Turquoise trail. Henderson store kindly told me that if I found something I liked better from another store, I could come back and return any of their jewelry I had just bought.

The next stop on the route was a town called Madrid, pronounced MAh-drid. This is the kind of town where dogs run around without leashes because everybody knows whose dog it is. I am a very thorough person, and since I was shopping with confidence thanks to Henderson Store, I went to every single gallery that sold jewelry. Many of the gallery owners had that hippy vibe, similar to how I felt in Asheville. Everyone greeted me with a smile and were genuinely interested to hear about my travels. At the second gallery I visited, I learned that almost all of the stores in town would allow me to bring my dogs in. So Snickers and Meeko immersed themselves in art and culture, taking in the sites and drinking from thousand dollar rock fountains. No word on whether the water tasted any better.We even met a gallery owner from Pittsburgh!

We ended up spending 2 hours in Madrid looking through shops and chatting with people. I didn’t end up buying any jewelry from there, as I felt that my Henderson purchases were exactly what I was looking for. As we drove back towards Albuquerque, I started thinking more about what I would want in a jewelry collection. I stopped at Henderson Store again and bought another shorter necklace made entirely of turquoise, and a big silver pendant. I’m sure I will be able to find a big antique looking silver chain out in San Francisco.

The dogs were exhausted, and quickly fell asleep. All my shopping put my schedule back further than I wanted, so we did not arrive in Tuscon, Arizona until 10pm. Actually, in my brain it was 11pm, but apparently Arizona doesn’t ‘do’ Daylight Savings Time. Who knew that a state could pick whether they wanted to change their time? I spent the night curled up with Snickers on an air mattress at my cousin’s (my mom’s side) boyfriend’s place. He had a very sweet 4 month old pitbull mix puppy who really really really wanted to play with Meeko. Unfortunately she was about 40 pounds while Meeko is 16 pounds. It was decided that the play would be too rough for the puffball, so they resolved to barking and wagging tails at each other between a glass door.

In other news, my boyfriend has found an apartment for us! It is a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom vintage looking place that accepts dogs and knows that we are bringing dogs! I still can’t believe that we have a place to live after months of searching, and in some cases, being turned down. Part of me feels like something could still go wrong, but for now I will try to ignore that. This lease doesn’t start until the middle of July though, so we are planning where to live for the next two weeks. Needless to say it will be a long time before I unpack this car!

Location: Tuscon, Arizona

7 days: Shipping to Cali

I just finished shipping 3 large boxes to California. Total cost? $154. Not too bad, considering I got $500 worth of insurance for the two boxes that were filled with clothing. I figure, if either of those got lost, that money would be enough to get me a nice replacement wardrobe.

The third box I shipped as “Media Mail.” If you have not heard of this option before, seriously take advantage of it if you are ever moving. Media mails moves slow, and  you can only put “media” into the box, like books or DVDs. But, it is super cheap.

Last night I set up my apartment for my “Food Party” with my co-workers/friends (there’s really no difference!). I hope that the mood will be fun and not too sad. I also hope that what food and cleaning supplies I have left over will work perfectly with what was on their grocery lists for the week! Meeko was gracious enough to help me with setting up a “dollar table” and putting signs everywhere. By helping, I mean she pranced around, barked at stray tupperwares and attacked mirrors wondering who that strange dog was.

To help us feel motivated, I played Daft Punk’s Alive 2007 CD. (Yes, I know, a CD sounds ancient, but I had an old CD player in the basement and found the CD in my room.) The first song was Robot Rock. If you’re not familiar, this song, and their style in general is heavily electronic. Meeko’s reaction to the song was hilarious and I really wish I’d had my phone near me so I could take a video of it. She was tilting her head to the side with the beat, poking her nose at the speakers with an expression that can only be described as “What IS that???” I of course encouraged her to get her rave on.

I may try to re-create Meeko’s reaction to Daft Punk and her love of mirrors, but for now I will be finishing up preparing my house for the party and my final week in Pittsburgh!

Not my channel, but you can listen to the song here.

14 days: We did it!

Meeko spent her entire day out of her cage while I was at work… and she didn’t have any accidents!

After my five day weekend, going back to work today felt a bit out of place. The day moved very slowly, despite a tasty free lunch. I took my diploma down, but by 5 I was feeling quite lazy so I left it leaning up against the heater in my office.

While sitting in traffic today, staring at an obnoxious red SUV and musing about it’s gas mileage, I had an idea. What if I made a sign for the back of my car, advertising my blog? Something like, “I’m on a x-country road trip! Check out my trip so far: aventureinwriting.com” Cheesy? Or brilliant?

With Memorial day coming up and some more vacation days,  I only have 7 work days left. This moving process has entered the transition phase where I’m living off of paper bowls and my fridge is nearly empty. My closet contains only the clothes that I’ll be wearing on my road trip.

Snickers is sleeping off her new bone and I’m watching SNL: The Best of John Belushi.

15 days: Big progress

In the past few days, my kitchen has been packed up, Meeko got spayed, and I’ve only un-voluntarily lost a few articles of clothing.

My Mom came down for the weekend to help me in my packing process. Through all the moves my family did, she was always our fearless packing leader. I have no doubt that all of my individually wrapped plates and bowls will make it through my future moves without a scratch. We also tackled a metal shelving unit, which ended with the unit sideways on the ground, my Mom pulling back on a shelf while I swung away with a rubber mallet trying to loosen the shelf from the poles. We agreed this counted as our workout for the day.

In Meeko news, when the vet tech brought her out after her surgery, she had on her mopey face for about 3 seconds. Then she saw my Mom and immediately perked up and ran right to her. Jeesh Meeko, it’s not like I was worried about you or anything! She walked most of they way home, but I carried her up all our stairs. Snickers was waiting at the door, feeling left out of course. She sniffed Meeko’s stitches and seemed to know that something was different.

The instructions on the Vet’s take home sheet say to keep Meeko quiet for 10-14 days. She’s eaten a pair of socks, a foot off of my grey tights, and has recently decided that she’s not going to sleep in her crate anymore. She let me know this by making a nice pattern of puncture holes in the mesh of her crate. So helpful! We compromised and tried letting her sleep “out” in my bedroom last night– no accidents this morning! We’ll see how tonight goes.

7 official work days left!