Category Archives: Uncategorized

Our New Site: http://livinglargetinylot.com

Finally, after months of deliberation and 250+ posts, we are moving our blog from the free word press site to self hosted site.

We are moving from https://livinglargetinylot.wordpress.com to http://livinglargetinylot.com

All posts that used to appear here will now appear on the new site:  http://livinglargetinylot.com

What does this mean to you? Will you miss any of the new posts?

Unlikely.

If you follow us via Email or FaceBook, your experience will remain the same.

  • You will see a new post email notification pop up whenever we publish a new post on the new site.
  • For FaceBook followers, check the LivingLargeTinyLot Page for new posts that will get posted there ( as usual!)

For WordPress followers, you will see the new posts in WordPress Reader.

Unfortunately, you will not get an email notification of the new post (like you did in the past).

If you would like an email notification, you have one of two options:

  • Subscribe to our RSS feed here
  • Head over to new blog and sign up for email notification there! ( Using the Sign up Using Email Widget on the Right)

For Tumblr, Twitter or G+ followers, your experience will remain the same.

  • You don’t need to do anything. < Fingers crossed!>

When is the Move?

Although we have moved the content over, we still have a few things to tinker on the new site. We will start posting new content on the site starting next week. ( March 25th onwards!)

SO HOP ON OVER!

Join us on http://livinglargetinylot.com for new recipes, travel tales and adventures.

We are excited for this new phase in our blogging adventure!

P.S. The new site looks very much like the old one. With a new-born, we will slowly work on revamping the appearance for the new site. Baby steps! Sleep! Baby Steps!!

P.P.S. If you don’t see a new post next week, drop us a note. Cyber glitches are possible and will try our best to sort it out. We don’t want you to miss out on anything!

P.P.P.S Wish us luck with the move. Aforementioned cyber glitches have taken down bigger sites. We are just a small fry 😉

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Realty Bytes :California Dreamin’

Its been a couple of months since our move to San Francisco.  Its been crazy, hectic but we are finally settling in. We now have a car, an apartment for a year, a doctor for the kids, midwife for me and not to mention a pre-school for Varun.

We are as set as can be before the new baby chaos takes over.

Lots of friends have pinged me, to ask about our stint in India, about moving back to US and about “whats it really like to be in Bay Area?”.

Here is what I sum things up to based on our ~ 2 months stay in San Francisco.

Its crazy expensive 

Didn’t we know that already?

Well, yes we did. We did the math and the number crunching and more math. Excel spreadsheets were involved and we thought we should be able to manage. But when you actually see what you get for your money, you do feel bad. Deprived and enraged at times.

My advice, don’t go by cost calculators alone. Keep a buffer of 15 – 20% and you will be fine!

Its crazy diverse

More Asians and Hispanics than Caucasians/ African-Americans. That’s what I have experienced so far in my day-to-day – be it in schools, public transits, libraries, playgrounds, laundromats etc. And no they are not the service providers – they are paying customers. The only place where “white” people rule are the coffee shops and the tourists spots.

This may not be true once we move to Pac Heights / for rest of the Bay Area but was especially true here in SOMA.

While touring preschools, I met so many people you have moved here from Chicago, Philadelphia, Canada, Australia…it truly is a melting pot. And as most as transplants they are all helpful, warm and willing to share information. No Seattle freeze here!

Finding a House is a Battle ( Not to mention Small but Expensive)

15 minute Open houses. If you are late by even a minute the realtor showing the apartment has disappeared. On his way to another showing. Across town.

Dated, small, 1 bathroom houses where if you can fit your bed you won’t know how to open the closet or the door.

Long line of tenants, prepped with manilla envelopes detailing their income, family history and generally anything that will “upsell” them as “THE” tenant.

And a year-long lease to make sure you don’t “occupy” the space forever.

Unless you are willing to commute, shell out even more $$ or are incredibly lucky.

If you like something put a ‘ring’ on it. Apply immediately. Upsell. Upsell. Upsell. Else it will likely be gone faster than getting coffee at Philz.

We wanted to keep Vipul’s commute short so are paying $$$ for the apartment but the view and the neighborhood really are great.

Luckily, the owner will kick us out in one year so we will be forced to re-evaluate.

Buying is probably out of question. Not till I find a job and even then plunking down $1.5 M + on a dated small house will be a real hard pill to swallow.

30 minute Commute is A Real Sweet Deal

Seriously. To have more space, better schools, weather and to keep things affordable, people have to commute. North bay and East bay can be anything between 30 – 45 mins. South bay probably a bit more. Peninsula is the sweet spot but prices there are no less.

Public transportation is great

I love not having to drive anywhere during the week. I can pretty muck walk or take the bus/train anywhere. Walking to get to public  transportation as well as the hilly terrain are built-in daily exercise for slackers like me. Though it sucks to wait for a bus or a train with a kid. And walking to and fro to bus stops/train stations with a kid needs more time than google maps suggest. They dawdle, get distracted or generally refuse to walk.

People have train and bus friends – like they do in Mumbai! While they don’t save a spot they do have groups that they can chat with on the way to work/ back.

We do have a car to drive down to meet friends and go about on weekends; but really if it’s in the city we don’t bother with the car. Parking is usually $$$ and hard to get. Even with apps that help you find one.

Weather is Awesome

Folks on East Coast , Mid-West and Pacific Northwest – its in upper 60’s for the last couple of days. No jackets, walk to work/park, play outside.

I would pay $$ for the sunny weather after living for a decade in Seattle.

South/ East bay is even warmer and sunnier.

I love seeing the fog roll in over the city sky line. Lets see how long that enamors us 🙂

Parks, Playgrounds and Green Spaces

There are many many parks and green open spaces in the city. We walk to most of them.

But be warned, a park is not a park if it does not have a play area. Any 3-year-old will tell you that. If it doesn’t have a play structure it’s not a park.

Luckily, parks with play structures are plenty too. They are overrun by kids on weekends – primarily because the weather is good and houses are small. So you want to head out.

Walkscore is usually great 

Walkscore makes sense here. You can walk to farmers market (most sub areas will have their own and its highly advertised by landlords and agents), library, playground, super market, public transportation, dry cleaners, restaurants, coffee shops, hair dresser etc.

But walking with strollers may be hard. The terrain is hilly with many ups and downs. There are  even “step hikes” in the city!

Walking to schools may be iffy based on where you end up!

Schools

Getting into schools is tricky. Both public and private. There are parent groups to help you navigate the process formally.

Nursery’s feed into pre-schools into Pre-K into Elementary and beyond. You need to be hooked in to the chain earlier. Some even do it while the kid is in utero.

There is some truth to above and some exaggeration. We have applied to 5-6 preschools. Some popular, some less so. Some immersion and others more mainstream. All private as we are still in preschool phase.

I think the diversity of schools ( Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio-emillia, immersion (Spanish/ Chinese/Japanese/ Italian) and number of schools both public and private is truly amazing.Most of them are $$ but offer part-time and half day programs to reduce costs. Co-ops are another way to keep costs in check.There is a fit for everyone.

Lets see where we land. But more on pre-school application process in a separate post.

Childcare

Another area that has long wait and is $$. It’s probably along the same lines as in Seattle.

A full day M-F program will set you back by $2000/ month at least. Food may or may not be included. Half day programs, part-time programs are popular with parents using nanny shares for younger kids. And there are plenty of daycare centers tall over the city; though most in financial district/ working areas are subsidized and reserved ( Fed, UCSF employees, low-income etc).

Finding a nanny is tricky as is the case everywhere.

Many Many Things to Do ( Free, Paid and Everything in Between)

This is truly why people love the city. And don’t want to move. There is a ton to do here – music, parks, parades, beaches, art walks, free movie nights  etc. Restaurants for every budget and cuisine. And if that’s not enough, we are a short drive to farms in North Bay to see the farm animals and pick fruits/veggies not to mention wine tastings.

I have listed only kid friendly stuff but you can browse through here for more adult listings (like movies, burlesque shows, food tastings etc)

Kid Friendliness

When we moved, since we don’t have any friends with kids in the city, I thought SF is not kid friendly at all. Most people who we know and love the city have lived here before kids ( or are still around but don’t have kids yet). But during home and school search we realized many family friendly neighborhoods, see kids (even multiple kids) around. So hopefully Varun will have company as he grows up.

Just that we may need to switch houses often (unless we manage to find a place where we can live for a few years).

Overall we are in love with San Francisco. Its like living in Mumbai. Small apartments, fast pace of life and generally no time for anything else during the week. Streets are bustling, there is ambient noise everywhere due to traffic/ trains and activity.

We wonder what took us so long to move here. But now that we are here, we are loving it.

Well, better late than never eh!

Hello 2014!

Lake Tahoe

Although a day into 2014, it is still early enough to say Hello 2014!

We were out with friends over New Years in a not-so-little cabin overlooking Lake Tahoe. New friends, old friends, lots of home cooked goodness, copious amount of wine and scotch; not to mention craziness that happens when kids are asleep and adults tipsy!

IMG_4096

We spent the first day of 2014 driving along the beautiful sunny shores of Lake Tahoe and then with a late lunch-early dinner at an Indian restaurant in the middle of nowhere.

Friends and laughter, food and travels – always the best way to start a new year!

While I don’t make any resolutions ( or have stopped making them since I never stick to them), this year,  I plan to reduce my IOU’s.

I owe a lot of posts ( travels to Hawaii, Europe, Asia and around Seattle; desserts and quick dinners; not to mention California relocation). Many friends have asked for them and I have always put them off for various reasons.

But I promise, before we move into our apartment and before the baby arrives and more craziness takes over, I will whittle down the IOU’s.

Here is a sneak peek in pictures:

Light and Colorful Winter Fruit Trifle

Winter Fruit Trifle

Fresh Fruits and Ricotta Mini-Tarts

Mini Ricotta and Fruits Tart

Dinner Veggie Quesadilla
Vegetable Dinner Quesadillas

Soba Noodles with Tofu in Soy-Lemon Dressing

Soba noodles with Tofu in Soy-Ginger Dressing

10th Anniversary in Maui

Pink sunset over Maui

Romantic Capital of World- Paris, France

France

Alligators and Airboat ride at Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

Hike to Bottom of Grand Canyon ( long ago before we had babies)

Hike down Grand Canyon

Lummi island – For No Crowd and Gourmet San Juan Experience near Seattle

Lummi Island

Some are from recent past, others from summers ago when we didn’t have kids. Hopefully I will be able to do justice to all.

Hang on and join us as we share new and some old adventures!

Happy 2014!

Wish You Joy and Laughter!

Wish You Joy and Laughter!

As the year winds to an end, Vipul, Varun and I would like to wish you Happy Holidays!

Thank you all for your encouragement, support and the likes.
…thanks to those who stumble here and linger on.

You are our virtual family and we wish you joy and laughter in the year ahead!
More recipes to share with your loved ones, more travels and some off beat memoirs of ours relocations.

We are taking the last week off to spend time with friends and setup things for our new apartment in the city.

Travel safe, stay warm and enjoy the holidays!!

See you in the New Year!

Travelling Unexpectedly!!

Out, with no access to internet. Will resume posting once I am back!

Have a great week and an awesome Fathers day 🙂

See you all next week with more travel tales.

Welcome 2013 With Open Doors

Doors

On the first day of 2013, lets welcome it with open arms, minds and doors!

Lets hope this new year brings us all happiness, joy and comfort. It gives us courage to handle any challenging situation.

Here’s also hoping that our media, politicians and countries bring stringent laws and rules to prevent any more of the inhuman crimes that shook our worlds ( Newton, Connecticut school shooting and the Delhi gang rape case).

I hope, personally, it brings me patience, wisdom and composure to handle parenting challenges. And it brings me new opportunities – at home or work- to read, laugh, reflect and share with friends and family!

I want to try and make more time to play with Varun, indulge him and also do his homework!

And lastly, I wish to find motivation to exercise more and eat less sugar 😉 I know this will barely last beyond week 1 but I will try harder this year.

The world is full of craziness and who knows whats in store for the new year. As the new year begins, I want to thank you for reading this blog and joining us virtually on our adventures half way across the globe.

A very Happy New Year to you all!

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