Way back on October 9, I was all excited about the fact that our delivery was scheduled to arrive. Well. Suffice it to say that that was a bit (understatement) of a ShangLow kind of day because there was a substantial amount of damage to our "stuff" -- and, if that wasn't enough, they completely lost a tall dresser -- full of all my undies, socks, swim suits, pjs, etc, a wicker chest -- full of all our CDs, DVDs, and miscellaneous "stuff," and all of our pots and pans except for one. :::sigh::: As I said at the time, it's all just "stuff." But, still -- we're still in the "claims process." As in, we've submitted our claim and will wait and see what happens. I find myself singing, "This is the move that never ends .. it just goes on and on my friend ... " ... ...
All that being said, I have so very much to be thankful for. And, well, about 80% of our stuff -- including the "stuff" with the most sentimental value -- did arrive undamaged. It was so much fun to unpack individual pieces and be thrilled that they were safe, then find special places to put them.
And, while I was worried that I'd packed way too much stuff, I was very surprised as I put stuff away to find out that I really didn't!! Shocking. Ok, I did find a couple things here and there that I don't need here. (Since there are magnetic door stops on every door, I really don't need the half dozen door stops I brought.) But, I've put away virtually everything and, believe it or not, we still have ample closet space and storage space. (Ok, the camping stuff is BIG - too big to put in a closet, so that stuff stays in the monster gray tubs, but - that's a size issue, not a too-much stuff issue.) And, even accounting for the space necessary to add in all the missing/damaged items whenever they get fixed and/or replaced, I think we'll be just fine with a bit of room to spare.
And, it's amazing how adding our "stuff" makes this place feel -- well -- like our "home." I'm loving it. To be sure, there's stuff still to do (isn't that always the case). And, to be sure, it's a different kind of home. (That there are so few physical books is very very weird to me. But that's just how it is when you can only bring X number of books with you.)
But -- all that being said, I am really enjoying this space -- and making this space "ours." So, let me take you for a bit of a pictorial tour of our home:
Now about the shoes. I always thought that it was just a cultural custom to take one's shoes off before entering. (I'm faced with just how ... uneducated I am about many things each day.) It is a custom. But - like many many old customs, it's also health-based. Shoes supposedly carry in the majority (I heard about 80% from one source) of the harmful particulates one has in one's home. Once in the home, they get caught up in the ventilation and then in the air we breath. So, by leaving shoes out in the foyer, we can substantially reduce our indoor air pollution. The brown cupboard there is full of my shoes. Jeff's shoes would only fit sideways. (Mine barely fit - I guess we both have larger-than-average feet.)
I had been half-heartedly following the custom for the first month we were here -- and inwardly giggling when I'd be riding the elevator down and see someone's foyer literally covered with what looked like dozens of shoes.
Now that I know the health "why" for doing so, I've become rather religious about it. And I moved a chair out there to make it easier to put shoes on and off too. (The deer pelt was a wonderful Christmas present from my sister-in-love and her love. I'm trying to hide the fact that this is an extra dining room chair -- and trying to deflect from all that gold tone too.)
The shopping bags are hanging right beside the elevator button -- because I kept forgetting to take one with me. Thank goodness for Command Strips, Hooks, and Hangers. Our cement-hard plaster walls would be utterly bare without them.
Ok, moving on -- or, rather, in -- to our living/dining "great" room ... with a view:
While less than half of the "stuff" here is from our Phoenix home, the other stuff pretty much matches the style we had so it's enough to make it feel like home to us. Actually, the layout and landlord/new pieces remind me more of my place in Chicago -- which I loved very much. I'll take some night pictures at another time -- it's much more dramatic than daytime hazy pictures. (Yes, that's haze today you see outside the windows. AQI has been in the "unhealthy" range for two days now. I understand November is the worst month for air pollution in Shanghai. And this seems to be true so far.)
The one-legged coffee table remains on the floor behind the couch. (My Facebook friends know that this was one of the casualties of the movers. I am haven't given up hope that adjusters will find a way to fix it -- and if they don't, I will. So we'll just live without a coffee table/footstool/movie-night-pizza-table/stuff collector for a while longer.) And the wall facing the dining room table is right now a very stark white wall -- which presents the perfect excuse for Saturday street shopping to find something to add color there.
I always wanted a full-length standing mirror -- and had no full length mirror here -- and we had a big blank wall to fill up -- and they're cheaper here than I've ever seen them in the US, so it seemed the perfect opportunity to get one. So, I did. Just a couple days ago - from IKEA.
Now, I'm scared of these incredibly hard plaster walls after striking out trying to get picture hangers to work.
(I tried about seven different ways recommended for plaster walls on Pinterest and other places. None of them worked. Even with Ook hangers. Fortunately, I did my "testing" on the wall behind where I knew we were going to put the bed. It's not a pretty sight.)
Anyway, since we have two cats (and since I can be incredibly clumsy at times), I was afraid to just let it sit up against the wall. So, I decided to splurge ($11.66) and have the IKEA guys come and secure it to the walls. They just came today! And -- I have to say that I love it. It brings the light from the big living room windows back into the long hallway from the kitchen to the bedrooms. (And, given that the cats have already tried to climb behind it, I'm thinking that this "splurge" was the right thing to do.)
Now, on to the kitchen:
So, it's a basic galley kitchen. It seems like There is a lot of storage, but it's "weird-to-us" storage. There are only two shallow drawers - with hard dividers in them. And the dividers are such that steak knives and the like are too big. And, well ... I guess having a kitchen junk drawer is a foreign concept here. Instead, there are just lots and lots and lots of shelves. And they're short shelves - our wine glasses barely fit --and only barely fit on one shelf in one cupboard. And they're not adjustable. (I tried. Another "whoops" that I have "fixed" with a combination of toothpaste and baking soda.)
And the shelves under the counter are very deep - i.e., lots of wasted space, or inconvenience if you have to pull out all the stuff in front to get to the stuff in back. (I'm not a cook, but even I can tell that this kitchen was not designed by a cook.) Anyway, workaround queen that I try to be, I re-purposed one of the plastic organizers I brought with me as a junk drawer, and then got a couple tubs and made "drawers" in the two cabinets on either side of the stove. It's not perfect, but it works to hold cooking utensils, measuring cups, etc., lids to pots and pans (the pots and pans went missing from our shipment, but the lids made it), and plastic storage containers.
I have to say that I just love the pull-out pantry -- and just made a magnetic wall since the fridge/freezer (beside the pantry) isn't magnetic. It works -- for us anyway.
Also have to say that I love having a separate laundry room. (Ok, so the machines don't work that great -- two sheets and two pillowcases are too much - have to do one sheet at a time....takes more than an hour to wash and nearly two to dry.) BUT there's room to move anyway. I like it as organized. And, for now, we have a sort of "wine cellar." Ok. Have I mentioned that drinkable wine is incredibly expensive here comparatively? Well. It is -- as in about three times the cost of the exact same bottle in the US - at least. (And I'm just talking drinkable. The "good" stuff is astronomically expensive.) So when I find something on sale (so it's only about twice as much as in US), I get a few. Well, last weekend Carrefour had a wine fair, with really great deals, so I stocked up.
I will have to find an alternative wine storage system come Spring: these two rooms are not climate controlled, so they will get way too hot next summer. However, for now, the back room works great as storage room/wine cellar.
There used to be a door between the two rooms, but it was just in the way, so I took it off and stuck it behind the shelving in the ayi room.
As an(other) aside, I find it rather appalling that the "ayi room" -- designed for a live-in maid -- is uncooled/unheated!! These rooms are sweltering in the summer and I can only assume they are going to be very very cold in the winter. Weird. There's also a mini-bathroom back there, with toilet, tiny sink, and shower head. It's like being on a boat - just close the door and take a shower along side the sink and toilet. Here - in our place - that bathroom stores the kitty carriers and a few other similar things that aren't climate-sensitive. Anyway, I'm rambling (again). Sorry.
Ok -- out of the kitchen and back the hall to .. YOUR room. You know, when you come visit us? Yes. The sheets are fresh, the bed is made, flowers are fresh, and space is reserved in the closet of our Guest Room. (And, we we have overflow space in my office too!) I'm so looking forward to having visitors!
We are also blessed in that we each have our own office. Jeff's is out adjacent to the living room (which is great for when he has the very late night or very early morning calls), while mine is between the guest room and our bedroom.
My office has a sleeper sectional ... just in case we get a family of visitors. (I promise to relocate the litter box for the duration of your visit!!) On a typical day though, this is pretty much an all purpose room: my office, kitty hangout, my closet, etc. And, the sectional -- or rather the pillows on the sectional -- serve as Gracie's safe place when the door bell rings, and her cave -- where she hides all the (fake) mice, tissues, bits of string, and whatever else she decides to horde in her special place....(It's going to be fun finding art to add color to these white walls.)
Jeff's office, adjacent to the living room, is smaller - but he also has the killer view of the river. And he has his own bathroom. It's a cute little office - with only one white wall for which we get to find some cool art or something to hang.
Finally, our bedroom: this one is still very much a work in progress as we are missing our TV stand aka tall dresser, and the walls are very bare, and we'll be looking for a rug to warm the floor (literally and figuratively), but we have the most important piece: our bed! I am soo thrilled to have our bed back. And so are the cats. We all sleep better now, to be sure!
It's also rather awesome to have a bath with a view, although it's not so great that the shower in the master bath is essentially nonfunctional. I mean - it works - but it's a corner shower. And the shower head sprays straight out -- onto the door. If the door is closed. If not, then it sprays right out onto the bathroom floor.
This wouldn't really be a big problem if you could just get in, close the door, then turn on the shower. However, unless you're into ice-cold showers, you can't do that here. You have to turn on the water for a good 5 minutes, then check it. (Usually, at 5 minutes, it's "not freezing.") Then check it again. (Usually, but not always, at 10-12 minutes, it's lukewarm, so bearable.) And, given the showerhead configuration, this means opening up the door at least three times with the shower head blasting water -- right out the door. (I can only assume that the designer never took showers -- or didn't know about how long it takes to get water warm in these apartments. Or maybe s/he was just a fan of freezing showers.)
So -- we shower in the hall bathroom, which actually is bigger so better anyway. And, the good part is that if you get in the shower when it's warm, it'll be hot by the time you've shampooed your hair once, so ... I've learned to take warm-to-hot showers. Of course, regardless of where we shower, we have to keep in mind that water just continues heating up. So we have to adjust constantly to avoid it getting scalding hot. Essentially, it's like being on a boat: one hand on the faucet, one hand to shower with. (I'm exaggerating only a little teensy bit. It's kinda crazy. But you get used to it.)
Notice the bathrobe hanging on the door in the bathroom? Yes!!! Though I lost all my undies, socks, pjs, bathing suits, etc. etc., My bathrobe made it!! Yaaaay.
Anyway, the good thing (or, rather, another good thing) is that, after some repairs, the jacuzzi bathtub works. And it's wonderful! For me, the idea of a bath has always been way more appealing than actually taking one. Five minutes after I got in, I'd be ready to get back out. But - I can stay in a hot tub forever. Ok, so this isn't really a hot tub, but I love the jacuzzi tub.. In fact, all this talking about it makes me want to go take a bath right now. It's s chilly in here and the city lights are shining bright ... and a bath sounds like a perfect way to start my evening.
So, have a great evening folks. Hope you enjoyed the tour. At a minimum - if you made it this far - thanks for tolerating my blathering on. But it just feels good to feel like I'm "home."