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The Great Apartment Search of 2012, Chapter Four: I Signed A Lease!

Our new neighborhood!

I did it. I finally found a new apartment and signed a lease like a big girl. I think it’s the biggest decision I’ve made completely by myself outside of hiring a lawyer to help with the divorce process. And just like that decision, I’m almost sick thinking I might have made a mistake. But it’s done.


The horrible Apartment Search of 2012 is OVER!! Feel free to have a drink and celebrate.

I’m so excited. Yes, it’s a little more than I wanted to spend and yes, it’s a little farther away from the beach than I was hoping but it’s nice. And it’s CLEAN and it’s in a really good neighborhood and school district. There is a park across the street and a nature preserve and it’s within walking distance of the farmer’s market, my favorite grocery store, my bank and several interesting Asian restaurants. I think the future’s looking pretty bright. It’s also only 15 minutes away from Toby so no more losing whole days to driving into Orange County! Wooooooooohoooooooooooooooooo!

So let’s see what it looks like already, right?

not so pretty on the outside

It’s a little ugly on the outside. But I can live with it. I think I’m going to call my new town Babar Land because everything is master-planned and sometimes it feels a little cookie-cutter but I can deal with it. This complex I’m moving into is the oldest in the city and that kind of gives it a little more funk than the other over-processed housing. I like funk. I can do funk. I can get down with my bad self from the late seventies. Bring on the striped knee socks and roller skates! My bangs like to feather naturally anyway.

New Home

We fit right in.

Do you think I should move my piano in?

Let’s go up the stairs and look around. But first, do you think I should move my piano up these stairs? They’re kind of steep. I’ve had my own upright piano for years but kept it my mom’s house because I never wanted to bother moving it. But now that I have a kid who seems musically inclined I’m thinking it might be time to hire some moving guys and bring some real music into our lives. I do have neighbors though, connected by one wall and below me. Will they hate me?

I haven’t lived in an apartment like this since college and back then we cranked up the boom box and annoyed our neighbors regularly. Don’t even get me started on the lady downstairs who liked to walk five miles on her treadmill to Mariachi music. We had music wars often. Techno dance parties…good times, man. But I don’t think I really want to be like that now that I’m a grown-up with my own child to be a good example to. Although I did notice a lot of students in the complex so it could be interesting.

my <cough> yard

Anyway, back to the tour: You go up the stairs into an enclosed patio. I like to call it my yard. HAH! I’m so funny. Yeah, I’m giving up a lot moving away from my house in the sticks with the giant back yard but them’s the breaks. Sadly, I don’t think Holly will be moving with us because this space is pretty pathetic. I’ll fix it up with my new andorak chair and a bunch of plants but I don’t think I could leave Holly here for hours at a time when I have to leave on errands. I could take her for amazing walks though because there are so many parks nearby. I’ll have to see how it goes. She does really love it at my mom’s house so I’ll just have to decide what would be best for her and how safe I feel in my new environment.

sound-proof porch window thingy

This is the view from our balcony.

our view grassy knoll

We have a grassy knoll! I foresee many picnics and photo shoots in this little grassy area.

dutch door! front door

living room

I’m kinda jazzed about the split door. What are they called? Dutch Doors? It will be nice to let the breeze in.

living room looking out

This is the living room looking back at the door. Nothing exciting but that’s okay. These photos will make what I do with the place all the more fun. The crappier they look the better the after shots will look. I’m not sure how I feel about the blinds. I might pull the blinds all the way up and put my sheer curtains up instead.

living room/dining room

The living room is really big. Bigger than I need. I’ve been looking at studios where the complete living space is half the size of this living room/dining room. But since everyone thinks kids need lots of space this is what I’m forced to live with. Go ahead, twist my arm. I think I can manage.

dining room

living room looking into kitchen

Dining room. Ignore the screen sitting on the floor. They were in the process of cleaning and painting and the cleaning ladies were out to lunch so I snuck in and photo-bombed the place. I’m so glad they let me because you know this is all I’m going to be thinking about for the next two weeks. Yep, I move in on the 16th. Woot!

kitchen kitchen

Kitchen. It has a dishwasher! And look at those white counters!!! I’m so spoiled. It’s so nice and bright and white. I’m going to have such an easier time photographing for food and craft posts. I won’t even need my old foam-core clipped to a curtain rod photo set-up. The white walls will be my soft box!

at least I'll have something to look at while I do dishes

Also, there is a window above the sink. I love that.

kitchen weird little kitchen alcove space that won't fit anything

There’s this weird little pop-out alcove on the end of the kitchen. It’s not big enough to put a table in and it has cupboards on both sides. I don’t know what I’ll do with it. Maybe my red toolbox end-table can go there. Anyway, it’s nice and bright. Maybe it will be my little photo studio or maybe I’ll put a chair there and Bug can narrate and judge my cooking from it, like a cooking show.

Enough about that. Let’s go see the bedroom.

living room/dining room

Here we’re standing in the living room looking into the hall that happens to have a mirrored double-doored closet that is full from the top to bottom with shelves. Hello craft supplies. I’d be sad about not being able to hang clothes there except that will not be an issue because I have a walk-in closet in the bedroom!!

view from all into bedroom

The question here is, what will we do when we have to move again and I’ve filled up all this space with junk? That is the issue to ponder.


So here’s the bedroom. It is much bigger in person.

bedroom looking into living room

Standing on the other side looking back at the living room…

bedroom view

View from bedroom window looking at snoresville parking lot. It’s an east facing window so we’ll get to watch the sunrise which is kind of cool for morning people like us but I’d rather it was my patio facing east so I could sit in the sun and drink my coffee. I guess I’ll just have to sit on my patio and drink a margarita instead.

bedroom looking at closet and hall to bathroom

Walk-in closet with saloon doors. I think we will be acting out many spaghetti westerns there.

peeking into the bathroom vanity area oh hello.

Let’s go down the hall and look at the bathroom. Oh hello mirrored closet. Why thank you, I think you look nice too.

vanity aka hair salon bathroom sink

So this will be the morning hair salon station. Not too shabby.

WHITE bathtub

And lastly, a great big white tub. I know most of you will look at this tub and think it’s not that special. It’s not that big and it’s not like it has claw feet or anything but we’ve been living with an avocado green tub for a year and a half.

It’s not that I have anything against avocado green, I don’t. I love avocado green it’s just that it is super dark and there is no direct light into the tub so my dad rigged some track lighting over the sink and one light pointed into the tub. It worked but let’s just say it was very “romantic,” which is not really what I’m going for at this point in my life and it’s not all that great when you need to shave your legs.

Also the light flickered like it was haunted and we had a lot of spiders. Dark + spiders + flickering made bath time a little more adventurous than I like. So we’re pretty excited about this nice bright white bathroom. Though I am worried that Bug will miss pretending to be a swamp maiden.

So instead of ending this post with a primo shot of the white bathtub I will leave you with this:


This is the park across the street where I hope to spend a lot of time. Isn’t it pretty?

And to answer all your questions, we’re 15 minutes away from the beach. That’s driving time, not walking. It’s sad but it’s a lot happier than we were.


  • Melissa

    Wow! That is beautiful! I have apartment-hunted in SoCal (West LA) and I feel your pain and know how hard it is… you did well.
    It’s crazy… the price we paid in Brentwood was THREE TIMES what we pay now in Tennessee, for a place that is only a tiny bit less nice. That corner of the world is ridiculous! Congrats on your beautiful apartment though.

  • susie

    WOW!!! This place is amazing! I think you and Bug are going to be so happy there. I’m so happy for you guys. I can’t wait to see the After photos!

  • Christina (in Mo)

    Ohhh..the possibilities!!
    I’m the weirdo who loves moving into new places and setting them up.
    I see you and Bug having great times and fond memories here.
    And 15 minutes was the beach ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at! :-)

  • StacEy

    Very nice! Is it just one bedroom? Will you and Bug be rooming up or can she have your walk in closet?

    • SAJ

      We’ll be rooming up. Which is what we do anyway. She just keeps toys in her room and I’m hoping to seriously downsize on her collection. I think she’ll get a kick out of keeping her toys in the closet. It’s like a whole room to itself. It will be her secret hideout.

  • DeeJay

    It really is pretty and so clean. And hey! That plug-in warmer will fit right in! So glad that I picked the white for you two! Happy new house!

  • Carrie

    I’m so happy for you! It looks great! A wonderful blank canvass for all your creativity. It will be so nice to be closer to where you want to be. Good luck with the move.

  • Dominique

    Congratulations! I love how much light it seems to get, and it will be nice to be closer to the beach.

  • Auntie Keren

    How absolutely wonderful! So bright and cheery. I was particularly pleased that, as they are blooming right now, you have several beautiful Jacaranda trees right outside (that you yourself don’t have to clean up after) and Yes! bring your piano…the rule of thumb about ‘interior wall only’ applies to homes built before WWII that had poor insulation and the insides got a ‘chill’ which would mess with the pitch. Here you would only have to be concerned about the sunlight damaging the ivories.

  • BeachMama

    WOOT!! WOOT!!! 15 minutes is awesome! I am so happy for you, it looks like a fabulous place, I feel the light lifting you up! And the amazing part is that you are back to where you need to be both for you and Bug and for your business. Things are going to move fast and grow so be prepared!

    I can’t wait to see it in person! And I find it fun that you and I can be close to beaches on the opposite side of the world at the same time, I will watch the sunrise and you can watch the sunset, all on the same day :)

  • Ninabi

    I am so incredibly happy for you!
    I love upstairs apartments best- if anything leaks, it doesn’t come down on you and your stuff (happened to us in three different complexes, never again).

    Everything looks wonderful- the bright clean space like a fresh sheet of paper- I cannot wait to see how creative you will get with the space.

    Enjoy this new stage of your life.

  • Tina

    YEA!!!! Can I not sound creepy to say some stranger on the internet has been praying for your apartment search? It sounded so frustrating and after the way you so cheerfully handled past less the stellar situations, I’m happy you have such a nice, bright, white clean place. I can’t wait to see what you’ll do with it and thankful you are at least a few minutes from the beach–not a day.

  • Susan:)

    Yay! It looks really nice, and I’m sure you are relieved that the search is over! And I too eagerly await to see how you transform it into your own. I really enjoyed all your posts on how you fixed up and decorated the mobile home, you have a great style! And the park with all those trees! Bliss!

  • Amanda J.

    Looks clean and bright! Hopefully – no cockroaches! I love the “creepy” folks who thought lots of good thoughts for you.

  • Cristine

    Your new place looks great! It looks clean and bright! I’m sure that you and Bug will be very happy!

  • Kristie

    Congratulations! I can’t wait to see the pictures after you’ve SAJed it all up!! :)
    It looks like a great place for you and Bug to call home!

  • bethany actually

    Oh, the gorgeous WHITE kitchen with windows! I’m so jealous. You guys are going to have so much fun making that space your home. I can’t wait to see it…IN PERSON!!! Only three months!

  • Janey

    WOW!! Love it, very clean and nice bathroom and kitchen :) I am so looking forward to seeing how you decorate it and hearing about the next chapter of your life. Congrats!!

  • Kate

    Brenda, I am so, so, so happy for you and Bug! The new complex looks so well manicured, and the apartment is bright and clean and lovely. It’s a great place to start a new chapter with a (literal) clean slate! Idea for the kitchen nook: my brother and I always did our homework in the kitchen while our mom cooked dinner. Looking so forward to seeing the in-progress and after pics!

  • ioi

    Definitely take your piano! Bug is at the perfect age for it and your new living room has plenty of room for a piano. All of my kids plunk out their own melodies and I love it (they do too – although I sometimes catch myself hollering from another room, ‘No piano right now! ___ is sleeping!’)

  • a chris

    It looks gorgeous. In a good neighbourhood and school district? This is very important at this point! I know you’ve been used to walking to the beach but I think you made a smart compromise.

    A piano in an apartment? …my alternative suggestions may not fly but I don’t know how the cost compares to moving a piano: electric keyboard? Electric guitar? Both can be practiced at controlled volume or with headphones. I’m aware that a good keyboard is pricey. You’re right: it’s worth seeing what the accepted noise levels are in the existing neighbour ecosystem.

    Congratulations! I hope it’s a great base for the next adventures.

  • Jummy

    Congratulations on your new pad, Brenda! I can’t wait to see how you make it your own. Wishing you and Bug much happiness in your new home.

  • Donna

    Congrats! Happy for you both. The front door? Those type are called carriage doors! Nice to let in a breeze from outside!

  • A different Elizabeth

    So so so so happy for you and Bug!!! And I can’t wait to see your (many, hint, hint) posts about how you decorate it! Lots of detail, please! We love seeing your creativity! Have a wonderful time moving in and setting it up. I’m so pleased for you that it is near a park and the beach and Bug’s dad and a good school!

  • A different Elizabeth

    P.S. Now tell us what we can read and click on to get you more advertiser money so you can buy nice things for your apartment!

  • Mallory

    1. Love the photo of Bug’s feet on yours. 2. My 4.5 year old sleeps with us by choice and I love it. Those snuggles are the greatest. 3. “It’s sad, but it’s a lot happier than we were.” I know this kind of happiness…it’s pretty amazing, right?! I’ll be praying for you.

  • Cathy

    Congrats to you and Bug – it looks like room-fulls of possibilities! Can’t wait to see what you do with your clean, white canvas. Excited and happy for you!!

  • Sam

    Such great news! I am so excited for you and Bug! It looks like a great apartment and all that matters is that you’re happy. What a relief!

  • Angela

    Hi, I always read your blog, but haven’t commented in a while. But I just wanted to say how happy I am for you and Bug. You found a really great place which I hope will become a wonderful home for you and your daughter. With all the life changes and transitions, you’ve had a really tough time lately, wishing you and Bug all the best that life has to offer.

  • Jen

    I love it! I know that you will cozy that place up. I love the kitchen, the front door, everything really.

    I would probably hold off on the piano moving. It might start off on the wrong foot with the neighbors. If it were like ours, the electric kind that you can put headphones on, I wouldn’t hesitate. But the stairs and the volume. Maybe wait till you’ve decided you’re going to settle there for a while? I’m doing the same with my real piano that is at my parents’ house right now. Just a thought.

    I can’t wait to see the place in person!!

  • norm

    No, Babar’s real kingdom is way cooler than Irv… *cough*I mean, wherever beyond the orange curtain you are ;) Congrats, it looks great, and hey, ignore the cars and look at the purple jacaranda trees!

  • Amy

    Hoping your dog makes the move too :) Dogs great company when the kidlet in school, for security and for their abounding love for you. Great companions.

    (If need be get a crate for times you will be away. Dog will usually adapt, feel safe and snooze..) Sorry if I am projecting and you feel pressured, just personally could not be happy without my canine side kicks :)

  • Kuky

    Yay! I’m so happy you found a place!

    If Bug is really interested in learning the piano, I say bring it. I don’t think a piano is very disruptive unless it’s pounded on at all strange hours of the day. And sure it would be nice to have a keyboard with headphones but why buy something extra?