New Construction Townhome

Home Decor

RevolvingDork and I are just getting started preparing our new place for moving day. We have a fair amount we’d like to do, including replacing the current gross carpet, and I think it goes without saying that we’ll need to repaint…

This is the walk-in closet off the master bedroom, and though I’m sure someone loved this closet very much, it’s not really my style.

I call it the “pretty pretty princess closet.”

New Construction Townhome

Comcast is stupid. Film at 11.

In news that will surprise absolutely no one, Comcast’s customer service is awful. Unfortunately Verizon DSL speeds in our area are a joke, and FiOS hasn’t made it to the neighborhood yet.

Because there will be overlap between our condo and the new place, during which we really need internet access at both, I wanted to see if I could set up the new place on our current account so as not to have multiple bills. (Spoiler: you can’t).

After a failed attempt at calling Comcast, in which I navigated half a dozen phone menus only to be disconnected, I tried their “live chat” service.  It was… special.

Me: My Issue: I have two homes, can I set up internet service for both on the same bill?

analyst Nicole has entered room

Nicole: Hello [you], Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Nicole. Please give me one moment to review your information.

Nicole: Thank you for bringing this to our attention.


Nicole: Yes, you may set up internet service for both account however for each accountit has to have a unique user ID for security purposes.

Me: And both accounts can be on the same bill?

[a minute passes, the agent isn’t typing]

Me: Hello?

Nicole: I’m sorry but you will be billes separately for both accoutnas well.

[so, what you meant to say before is… no]

Me: ok, thank you.

I’m not particularly surprised by the answer, since Comcast accounts are generally linked to your service address, but where do they find these service reps? Given how many people are looking for work, how hard can it possibly be to find someone who can read and write?

Wait, don’t answer that. It will just make me depressed.

Family, New Construction Townhome

Leaving The City for a New Life

Sharing the news of our pregnancy with friends has been bittersweet. While everyone is excited about our newest addition, not everyone is quite so happy about the other big change coming with it: we’re leaving New York City for Philadelphia in order to be closer to family. We’re ditching our Jersey City condo and plunking down a chunk of change on a four-bedroom rowhouse in Manayunk.

New York is an amazing city, and after three years I’ve only see an tiny, tiny fraction of it. There are amazing things happening all the time, incredible people, an infinite number of places to eat, and a 24 hour subway system that means never having to worry about a designated driver. My local fabric store is so immense people make pilgrimages to the city just to visit it. And most of all I have an incredible network of fantastic friends here; the kind of friends who come to your baptism, even though they’re atheists, or help you lug an anvil-bolted-to-a-log across town. For science. But despite everything I love about this area, I realized it’s not where I want to be forever.

Our decision to move was based on a lot of things. We want more space; our current place has so little storage I keep my bike in the bathroom. The cost of living is substantially higher in New York, and the fast-pace of living is starting to wear me down. But ultimately it’s family that’s bringing us south. My husband’s huge closely knit family is in Philadelphia, and even before we got married I knew it was just a matter of time before their gravitational pull sucked us in. Getting pregnant was just the thing that put us over the edge.

Raising kids in New York City can be incredibly rewarding, but it also comes with some unique challenges. The subway system, with its mazes of stairs, is downright hostile to anyone with stroller. A mini baby-boom over the last 5 years has made getting into preschool both competitive and expensive. And just like anywhere else in the country, if you don’t have friends with kids nearby it can be isolating and lonely.

For those with family (or friends with kids) in the area, getting a precious few hours of kid-free time is as simple as dropping them off at Grandma’s – with a bottle of wine as a bribe, of course. For those without, it means shelling out for a sitter – assuming you can find one who is both trustworthy and available. At 6 months postpartum, a friend of mine confessed she hadn’t been out at all because she still wasn’t ready to leave the baby with a stranger.

Only a few of our friends live in our neighborhood, and none of our friends with kids live nearby. I didn’t want to have to choose between wrestling a stroller up four flights of  subway stairs and being a shut-in. We found a place in Philly that’s in a neighborhood a lot like the one we’re in now: very walkable, lots of public transit, good restaurants. It has enough room to have as many kids as we want. Best of all: it’s only a few miles from both my in-laws and great-in-laws.

Plus, New York won’t be rid of us entirely.  We’re both lucky that we’re able to do our jobs from most anywhere, but we’ll still need to pop into the city periodically for meetings.

I don’t have any delusions of my life staying the same as it is now once the baby arrives, but I’m hoping that with a little help from the family we can sneak off to see the occasional movie or grown-up restaurant. There may not be quite as many amazing things happening in Philadelphia as there are in New York, but by moving closer to our support network there’s a much bigger chance of us being able to get out and do them.


New Construction Townhome

Shopping for Homeowner’s Insurance


Any claim I had to “not being a grownup” is slowly slipping away, particularly with my latest task: shopping for homeowner’s insurance. Unlike renter’s insurance, which really just has to cover my stuff, homeowner’s insurance has all these strange and bizarre things it has to cover. The building itself, the stuff inside, and of course liability in case someone decides to do a sweet jump off our front porch and then sues us.

I started shopping for insurance the way I do most things: by avoiding humans entirely and filling out a bunch of quote forms online. Protip: do not enter in your phone number, or these cash-hungry vultures will start calling you do “discuss your quote.” I did use a throwaway email address so as not to continue getting insurance-related spam for the rest of my life.

The first quotes I got were in the $2000-4000 per year range. Never having shopped for homeowner’s insurance, this seemed obnoxiously expensive but probably reasonable. Then RevolvingDork mentioned that the insurance on our current place is only $400 per year. The new place is bigger than the old one, but not 10 times bigger, and the neighborhoods are comparable.

So I broke down and called some of the local agents my real estate agent recommended. I hate talking to salesmen on the phone. Or in person. Really at all. I also hate going in to purchase a product without any real knowledge of what it should cost.

Without too much headache, we picked out a plan with similar coverage to what we’d been quoted before, but coming in at just over $1000. The only real hiccup was that the tax records have the information for the house completely wrong, leading to some confusion as to just how much house we were insuring. After handing over our credit card number it took all of 15 minutes to get the proof of insurance emailed to us, which is good because I had waited until 2 days before closing to take care of the insurance. See, I’m not such an adult after all!

It’s clear that in some industries it still pays to talk to a salesman, and insurance is still one of them.

New Construction Townhome


There’s a lot of spazzing about hurricane Irene in the mid-atlantic and New England. And while a hurricane is something to take seriously, they’re also highly unpredictable. Yes, you should prepare yourself, and yes the worst week of my life was going without power for a week after a hurricane, but where I am (just outside of Washington, DC) it’s not even raining yet. So chill out. No, you do not need to cancel your entire weekend plans yet.

Here’s what you should do:

  • Locate a working flashlight and some fresh batteries. Put them somewhere you can find them in the dark.
  • Grab a few extra boxes of crackers/jerkey/other foods that don’t require refridgeration. If the power goes out for a few hours, you’ll want to leave your fridge and freezer closed to keep the cold in.
  • If it looks like things are getting serious, turn your fridge/freezer down to pre-chill things in case of power outage.
  • Charge your phone, laptop, and anything else that can be charged
  • Do your laundry
  • Locate some pots/pans/buckets you can use if you spring a leak
  • Locate some old towels you can use to clean up said leaks
  • If your basement tends to flood, move the stuff you care about away from the walls if it starts raning. Prop up your couch with things you don’t care about. I hear webOS devices are cheap now.
  • If you require beer, get it now.
  • Find a battery operated radio (hint: many iPods fit this bill) and figure out what station weather reports come in on.

Also remember that land-lines generally continue to work without power, but the cordless phones won’t. Go to the thrift store and get an old school phone if you don’t have one. If the hurricane is a no-show, you can use the parts for hacking later.

Other emergency-preparedness tasks, such as the following, can generally wait until later. Say, when there is actually a hurricane within 12-24 hours of you:

  • Fill the bathtub with water (to flush the toilet, wash your hands, etc)
  • Cancelling any and all plans that don’t involve getting the hell away from a hurricane
  • Buying up a month’s worth of toilet paper (why do people do this?)
  • Compulsively refreshing The Weather Channel home page

Personally, I prefer NOAA to The Weather Channel. It’s a lot less sensationalist, but considerably lower-fi. Their graphics are bringing you the latest in 1999 technology.

Keep your heads on, folks.