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July 26, 2011

Sleeping on a park bench along the Seine is romantic, right?

Have you ever booked a vacation rental?

Several months ago, a coworker planted the idea of renting a condo in Paris during our honeymoon. And I fell in love! What better to use as a home base for sight-seeing than our own little apartment, where we could run across the street to the little Parisian outdoor market for fresh fruit and bread and cheese? We could come back to this inviting little space to eat our breakfast on the balcony overlooking the rooftops, then prepare a sack lunch to take along on the tour bus. Having a refrigerator and stove-top at our disposal, not to mention the hominess of an apartment filled with artwork and books, sure beats out the idea of a sterile hotel room that may or may not have an en suite toilet.

But you know what? The vacation rental process is long and scary. It's sort of like starting a new job at a tiny company when you're used to working for a big corporation. You're making a change because you didn't love your old job (or sterile hotel room), but it was familiar. You knew what to expect and how it works and you had faith that you'd get a paycheck every two weeks if you put in your hours (...get the room you paid for if you made your reservation?).

And this new job (apartment rental) has the potential to be awesome and a thousand times better than what you knew and maybe only endured in the past, but you don't know what to expect. It's not tried-and-true, and that tiny company might not be representing themselves truthfully, and there's no way to check because it's a tiny, private company. You just have to take the leap, if you've decided it's worth the risk.

I have been looking and looking at vacation rentals for months, and we are now about seven weeks from arriving in Paris, and I STILL have not booked anything. (To be fair, I did book a sterile hotel room with potentially no en suite toilet, just as a back-up, but I'm hoping for that apartment!)

I've been communicating with several people, and it's a struggle. There was a very nice woman who responded immediately, but I really had my eye on a different apartment I had fallen in love with, so I waited to hear from them. When they finally responded, the price was about 30 Euros a night more expensive than advertised, and I'm sorry, but 30 Euros a night (for five nights) adds up! I would so much rather use that money on the Louvre or a bottle of wine renting a bicycle to ride along the Seine, or something. Scratch that apartment off the list.

So then I went back to the first woman, but in the meantime, someone had booked two of our five nights. She continued to be incredibly helpful, sending a list of hotels in the area should we want to stay there for those two nights, and then move to her apartment for the remaining three. But we'll have already just moved from Nice to Paris at that point, and to move again in Paris seemed like too much.

Back to the drawing board. I was emailing with a lovely girl also named Kate, back and forth with info on her apartment. I asked her a few final questions, and got no response. I emailed her again, saying I was very interested in booking her apartment pending the answers to those last two questions, and... nothing. Ooo-kay. Scratch that, too.

So I emailed a fourth apartment owner. Everything sounds good, but she was asking for a 300 Euro security deposit. The reviews on her posting on FlipKey spoke to the ease of receiving the security deposit back, but that seems like a lot of money to put out without a rental contract, or something. So I asked for one. She replied that she would be happy to send me a rental agreement, and to look for it "tomorrow". Tomorrow was yesterday. Is this one falling through, too?

Bah! I booked that back-up hotel because I was starting to be afraid that I'd end up sleeping on a park bench along the banks of the Seine if none of these apartments worked out. And if I wasn't so attached to the idea of staying in Paris like a Parisian, I'd just go with the hotel. But I'd really, really like an apartment to work out. I just wish it wasn't so stressful!

July 25, 2011

June: Part the First

I had written a good portion of an entry with TONS of pictures, and somehow it went *POOF*! Gone. I'm... pretty sad about that. So, we start over!

I have been pretty terrible about using this blog in the last couple months. I'm going to blame it on the fact that I have been trying to fit too many awesome things into too little time, while still giving my all to work and wedding planning. I'm going to do a series of posts backdating to end of May.


Some time in May, my home air conditioner died. Thankfully, Mother Nature was kind and the handful of AC-less weeks were cool and pleasant, but I live in Southern California in a valley, and I know what temperatures tend to hover around as the summer really gets into swing. Not having AC is not an option. I spent the last couple of weeks of May getting estimates and quotes, ranging in price over a span of about $8,000. I ended up going with the middle quote, which was much closer to the lowest than the highest. The first weekend in June, my shiny new air conditioner was installed.


The same weekend as the AC installation, my entire family came out to California. It was the first time all four five of us were on the West Coast in years ever, including Steve, and it was pretty awesome!

Photoshopped family

Steve's parents also came down from Fresno so that our families could meet for the first time... before the wedding.

That Saturday, Gen threw me an amazing wedding shower at the clubhouse here at our complex. We made big floppy hats, and everyone had to add some kind of decoration to mine. It was FABULOUS.

The whole crew

(More shower pictures behind the cut below)

At the same time as the shower, the men (Steve and our dads) had a Man Day down in Long Beach at the Aquarium of the Pacific and the Queen Mary. We reconvened for a big family dinner at Versailles Cuban Restaurant. Yum!


On Sunday, my dear friends Jenelle and Steven tied the knot. Since my family was in town, Steve and I weren't able to attend the reception, but we went to the beautiful wedding ceremony.

Cute couple :) Jenelle and Steven

Steve had to go to a conference up near San Francisco for work, so after the wedding he headed out leaving just the A-clan. We headed down to the LaBrea tar pits for the afternoon.

Together at the Tar Pits

(A few more behind the cut below)

Then we met cousin Phil for dinner in Santa Monica.


On Monday, I took the day off work and we spent the day shopping for Mother of the Bride dresses and bathing suits, and just spending time together as a family before Mom, Dad, and Jess headed home on Tuesday. *sniff*

All in all, an EXCELLENT weekend.


Look at my hat! Fierce with a glue gun Jean and Sandra - red hat ladies! JL and Gen Well, I do declare! Jessie, Kate, Caitlin My throne Gen and me Look at that HAT! Jessie, Caitlin, Linda Clara Steve's mom


Dad and Mom Dad and Jess Sisters