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Awesome, And Cheap, Trip to Barbados

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My friend sent me a text, "Hey...any interest in going to Barbados for my 40th Birthday party?"

I had been trying to save money lately, since I have to deal with the whole new car thing that is coming up for work. But...I kinda needed a vacation. I really haven't been on a real vacation since my quick trip to Costa Rica in 2014 with the Hoboken Crossfit gang.

My friend Clarie already rented an AirBnB in Barbados, which was 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and $180 a night. She was staying for 9 nights, so total cost was $1620 for the condo...which had 3 bedrooms, or $540 for basically 10 days/9 nights. Was it a four star hotel...no. But if you check out the pictures, it was decent enough, plus had a kitchen, so you could make your own meals if you wanted (across the street was a market).

I was only going for 5 nights, so I would pay $300. That's not bad.

Then I had to consider airfare. Last year I got the Capital One Venture card. 2x miles for every purchase, and 40,000 miles when you sign up. I use my card for most purchases & bills, so the miles really add up fast. I used Capital One's website to book the airfare from JFK to Barbados, which was about 55,000 miles. So this ticket was free, essentially. I paid an extra $80 each way for the extra leg room seats. Totally and utterly worth it when you are 6'4 like me. Plus, since the tickets were free, paying $160 for tickets to a sunny beach sounded like a deal.

Well...$160 for airfare...$300 for room/board...what about Rocco??

Fortunately he is a popular pup, and I had a nice friend take care of him for the trip - for free. Many thanks to Bonnie, who adores Rocco, and I was kept up-to-date with many Rocco pictures of their adventures together. 

Getting to the airport for the 8am flight on Wednesday was a bit of a hitch, but my plan was to take the PATH train to Christopher Street, then grab a yellow cab which have flat rate prices to JFK for $53, rather than pay for the tunnel toll and a cab - or use Uber. I'm a big fan of Uber, but when I woke up at 6am, they had no cars available. I saved some extra money doing this, and it worked out fine.

Barbados was, in a word, great. I highly encourage people to look into trying Barbados, especially since the direct flight was only 4 hours. JetBlue rocks, I watched Star Wars & Creed flying back.

WiFi is in use everywhere on the island, most stores, shops, and restaurants have WiFi so you are "always connected". The AirBnB had a WiFi router, full cable, and I was able to watch Villanova play basketball on Miami's FOX station.

The picture above was my view from the AirBnB balcony. Barbados has very lax laws. You can drink anywhere. On the beach. In a car. Driving a car (I don't encourage that, we took taxis). But if you are going out taking a "road soda" didn't matter. 

As a cigar smoker, I liked how you could basically smoke anywhere - except in restaurants or other enclosed places. I was able to get about 5 different Cuban cigars and enjoy myself with a cigar on the beach - something that NJ has banned. It was glorious to sit on the beach, drink a beer, smoke a stogie and just stare at the blue ocean. 

Snorkeling was great, highly recommend you bring snorkel gear. I was able to see sea turtles on my 2nd to last day and swim with them. 

Also to save time I only brought a carry-on bag with my clothes. They had a washing machine at the AirBnB, so I would just use that to wash my clothes to save space on packing. 

We were able to golf while there, and we rented clubs. Did a tour of the Mount Gay Rum distillery. Hit the Oistins Fish Fry. Went out to a few restaurants, including Lone Star Restaurant, Nishi and The Lobster Pot. We went to Nishi twice because it was so good. 

Crime is pretty low there, but we did witness a thief steal someone's purse. If you are "city-savvy" you should be fine.

Getting around Barbados is mostly from taxi drivers or you can use the Reggae Buses. The Reggae Buses are not for older (read: fussy) folks. You have to be kind of laid back to take those, but they are like the NYC subway - very cheap and easy to get around the island. All taxi drivers can be negotiated. I didn't quite realize that until the end, and we found a very good driver to use there, who was a nice kid. 

Other things to know is that the islands electricity is the same as the U.S. - so no need for converters. Also their water is pure and clean, so you don't have to worry about drinking water or ice usage there like you do in Mexico or Costa Rica.

The Zika virus has been a concern for many Caribbean nations, and the CDC did report some activity on the island, but its extremely low. During the day we wore Off bug spray and each bed had a mosquito net to sleep under at night. I didn't consider it to be enough of a concern to stop me from going here.

If I had to buy "one" thing at the duty free when I visit, it would be Mount Gay 1703. It drinks like a good scotch. Even the Mount Gay XO is worth buying. These are not rums you add to coca-cola! If you want that, get the Mount Gay Black Barrel or even Eclipse.

I can't stress enough this one thing - eat fish if you visit here. I don't often eat a lot of fish, I mostly like sushi and rarely order grilled fish at restaurants in NYC. I'd rather order something else. In Barbados, it's like the freshest, tastiest food on Earth because you are basically eating fish caught about 4 hours ago, not something that's been flash frozen, put on an airplane and sitting in a freezer for a couple of days. If I lived in Barbados I would be eating fish 3-4 days a week. On my trip I only ordered fish and loved trying fishes that I never/rarely had before like flying fish, kingfish or blue marlin.

I said it before but everyone there is extremely friendly. Not just store owners, but everyone. They very much take pride in their island and enjoy tourists. I only met one sour person on the island and I told other Bajans (people from Barbados are called Bajan) about him and they said, "No, no. He can't be one of us. He was a tourist."

Barbados was one of the few places where I felt like I needed to go again. Much like my semester living abroad in Florence made me fall in love with Tuscany (and three visits back again!) - having this trip to Barbados made me wonder...why aren't more Americans going here?

If you are looking for a cheap getaway, with nice people and absoultely stunning beach views - Barbados is where it's at. 

 

My Current Dilemma: What Car To Buy

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In the next month or two, I need to buy a car for work. My office is moving to a new location that does not have public transportation (seriously), and I need to buy a car.

If you need to know anything about me, is that when I need to make a decision on something, I kind of go in depth on researching a product. Buying a HDTV? I will study every factor needed to get the "perfect TV". Buying a new PC? I will know CPU, RAM, video card specs and every nuance of what i'm buying. Half the reason why it took me so long to buy a condo was that I was convinced the housing market was going to tank...and that mortgage rates would rise. I bought about 1 year too early on that, and the rates dove, I couldn't believe I was wrong on that.

Anyhow, back to my dilemma. I'm all over the place on buying a car. It isn't as simple, for me, to pick a basic car with high gas mileage and call it a day. When I bought Rocco, I considered adopting first, but at the end of the day I wanted a Frenchie as my first dog, and even he was, for the time, very expensive - but six years later he was worth every dime. There is NO buyers remorse with him.

So, the factors to be are this, in ranked order:

1. Enjoyment To Drive: I want a car that everytime I get in it, I have a big smile on my face. Growing up, and having a Jeep Wrangler (especially at 17), I can't tell you how much I fucking loved that car. Hat tip to great parents who provided me a wonderful life. So, I want a car that I like. Not a Prius or SmartCar that I wedge myself into to save the planet and get high MPG.

2. Keep Within My Means: I have always been a big proponent about keeping my costs down, and living within my salary. My biggest splurge each year is my shore house or Crossfit. Otherwise, I really don't spend too much money. I did the math, and a few factors crop up. I have $5,000 to put down. After that, i'd like to spend $400-500 a month on a car. Parking will cost me $185. Insurance will be ~$120. 5 years at 1.9% on 25,000 is $437 monthly on a car. So that kind of ballparks me to a $30,000 car, with a few nudges I could justify a bit more than that, like $33,500 would cost me 500 monthly ($5000 down, 28,597 at 1.9%, over 5 years).

3. Lease isn't a (real) option: I could write about 5 reasons here, from mileage to the simple fact that in 1 year I could find myself back in the "NYC office" again. Mileage is the biggest factor, i'm looking at ~50 miles a day, 20 business days a month, ~1,000 miles for work alone a month, not including personal use. My guess? I'll be at 15,000 miles a year. Sure, I could get a lease for 15,000 miles, but don't want to be locked in for 3 years. So lease is out.

4. Ford = a good deal: A friend of my family works at Ford. They will let me buy any car on the lot for $500 more than "holdback". It's a very sweet deal, I can get a car probably $3000-5000 off MSRP, depending on make and model (obviously on more popular cars, not as much savings).

5. "Needs": My car needs this: All Wheel Drive (AWD) or 4WD. The reason is that I have a job that getting to work is a MUST and its kind of in the higher elevations, so the potential exists that during winter months I may be driving on bad roads. Also i'm about 6'4 and I need a car with headroom, which is either a "full size car" or "SUV". Which brings me to my other need - I need a SUV. I can't stand driving behind other SUVs and I can't see the road, especially in New Jersey were people have no idea how to drive. Minor needs...i'd like leather seats. Believe it or not the MPG thing for me is minor. With gas prices in the next two years, my expectation is that fuel costs will be not as terrible as years past.

6. Other factor: Cost-to-Own. One of the problems with luxury cars is I certainly can afford a (certified pre-owned) Audi Q3/Q5 or BMW X3/X5 - but the ownership costs for little things, like oil changes or a minor ding/fix are very expensive. Oil change for a Ford is $30-40, Oil change on a Q5 is $100. So, my issue is that every mileage update and any basic repairs will cost more money than it's worth to own. Trust me, I love the Audi Q5 and its a very serious contender.

Here's the cars i'm considering:

Ford Fusion Titanium AWD. I have driven these before. Roomy. Comfortable. So-so MPG (25 or so). Probably can get a real good price here. Enjoyment factor: 6 out of 10.

Audi Q5: I have been in a Q7 before, but never actually drove a Q5. But falls into 'dream car', everytime I see one, I stare. I really love the styling and I get the same feeling about one as I had with my Jeep Wrangler, I really love this car. Downside is that I probably can only afford a 2 year old certified pre-owned. Also really worried about upkeep costs. Also in here is the Q3, but the only knock on a Q3 is the engine 0 to 60 is 7.8 seconds...a bit slower than what I want. If they had an engine option here for a V6, the Q3 would be a major contender.

Ford Edge: Haven't driven this, really like it. Problem is with options, new, 2016 Edge with AWD and either the Sport or Titanium, is around $37,000-40,000 if not more, even with the friend at Ford. What happens when I think about it - why spend that much on a new Ford, when I could get a Q5 which I love for $33-35k? This is where my Analysis Paralysis starts to kick in. If I get a "cheaper" Edge, then it really doesn't have the bells and whistles I want, like a good engine.

Ford Escape: The new 2017 Ford Escape has some new styling and features which I thought looks nice. Haven't driven it. This kind of falls into the Ford Fusion scale of enjoyment. I'd like to test drive one. Also with options and such would be a good price. I don't necessarily need a car as large as an Edge or Q5. Given the 2.0 liter engine it does 0 to 60 in 6.5 seconds.

And...that's about it. I keep going back and forth between a Ford Escape, Audi Q5 and Ford Fusion. The Edge keeps peeking in there, too, but just seems to be too expensive. Oh, and Jeep Grand Cherokee waves at me, I really like the styling but it is too much car.

My heart says Audi Q5. My head says Ford Escape....or Edge. Fusion is there only because I have driven these before from Avis and they are a solid, dependable ride. I think if I got the Escape, I wouldn't be happy. Aren't we supposed to be happy? Then I go back to being fiscally responsible...don't spend too much, keep costs down....and the cycle continues. Very annoying.

Thoughts? Email me.

Clam Broth House: First Impression

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I was there today for lunch.

I had the clam chowder & roast beef sandwich.

My friend had the wings & steak bruschetta.

The chowder was average. Eh. Could have been from a can for all I know. The roast beef was, well, roast beef on a toasted roll. No sides. Just roast beef. Roll. That's it. For $12.

Now folks, I know this isn't SUBWAY. I'm not expecting my $5 footlong. But I was, well, expecting something MORE. How about fries? How about chips? Nope. Nada. How about maybe swiss cheese on the Roast Beef? Nope. Just roast beef on a toasted roll. My opinion? Tasted like they took pre-sliced roast beef out of the cooler, microwaved it and slapped on a toasted roll.

The wings we good, not great. Not amazing. Good. I would order those again. They had a nice kick afterwards and were meaty wings.

The steak bruschetta was very good from what I was told. I didn't have that myself, but as my friend told me he would "absolutely order that again".

I'll go back and try more things. So far, I am underwhelmed. Also adding insult to injury were these two key things:

1. When we sat at the bar, we weren't acknowledged for a good 6 minutes. It was lunch and there were 8 guys at the bar. One bartender. I worked behind the sticks, and I guar-an-tee you that I wasn't the fastest bartender, but I at least made eye contact with people and would say "Hi, I will be with you in a minute" if I was busy. Nothing. I was like she didn't care we were there until finally we are looking at each other and muttering that she came over to us. Again - 8 people at the bar. It's not like she had tables and a bunch of orders flying in. Gotta get better at that.

2. We closed our check without looking at the bill - just handed our cards and had her run it. The bill was $34 each. We tipped her, walked out and while walking away we did the math in our heads and realized there was NO CHANCE we just ate $76 dollars worth of food. We walked back and asked the bartender for the itemized bill. She looked it up and OOPS - she ran our cards on the wrong bill. What. The. Fuck. She voided it and re-ran our bills and it was $23 each.

I understand the "new business kinks" that need to be worked out, but that's just pathetic. In all my years as a bartender and a waiter, I KNOW that I haven't seen such crappy service by someone behind the bar - ever.

This place won't be in business for very long if it keeps up.

Also another last issue I have is with the prices on the dinner menu. I'm all for paying good money for good food. I go out to NYC restaurants and will pay NYC prices. But if Danny Tattoli wants to have people in Hoboken pay $28 for a filet mignon, it better be something comparable to New York City. I mean, I take the PATH to Christopher Street, eat at Wolfgang's or Raoul's and pay $6-10 more for one of the best steaks in 100 miles.

I will try it a few more times and write a final review in a bit. But right now...i'm on the fence. I think one thing they can do fast for the bar menu is add fries when you order a sandwich. 99% of all restaurants at least give you a side to nosh on with your sandwich. Nothing at CBH except beef & bread for $12.

Gym Renovations

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Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

Ok, a break from Rocco this week.

I moved into my condo in April 2007, and one of the many reasons I liked it was that our building (which has 100 units, and 8 floors) also had a in-house gym. The condo dates from 1985, and the gym equipment were all from that era.

It was amusing to me, because in about 22+ years our focus on health has shifted a bit from the focus of 1985 America. The gym equipment they had were decent. Here's a list of what the building originally had (the pictures aren't the exact equipment, just an idea of what they are):

1. A rack cage with a standard bar.
2. A smith press with Olympic plates.
3. A multi gym.
4. A Dual Abduction / Adduction Leg Machine
5. A broken Roman Chair.
6. An Abdominal Machine.
7. Two old treadmills from 1985.
8. One non-functional upright bike from 1985.
9. One StairMaster 4000PT from 1987.
10. One elliptical from 2003.
11. Olympic and Standard plates, along with Olympic and Standard bars.
12. A metal hex dumbbell set from 5 pounds to 40 pounds.

Also the gym had a real thin layer of carpet, over concrete flooring. It was coming up in various places, ripped from years of use. The room was stark white in appearance and the vertical blinds were cheap, and some were missing.

About a month after I moved in, I asked the board, who have done an excellent job at managing our funds at our building, if I could be in charge of a gym overhaul. I told them that I would create a presentation addressing what we have, what we should get rid of and what we should buy to modernize our gym.

I'm not a gym expert, but I know a bit about what I do, and what my friends do at the gym. My goals were simple:

1. Our condo gym won't replace a commercial gym, but will be beneficial to the majority of our residents.
2. Modernize our equipment, discard or streamline unneeded equipment.
3. Enhance our gym aesthetics, for owners to their prospective buyers or renters.

Most of the equipment we chose were considered commercial grade over light commercial. We felt that the better quality would last us longer over light commercial.

Here were my proposed changes:

1. Remove the carpet flooring and replace it with rubber flooring. It would reduce noise and be more resistant to stains and odor.
2. Replace the metal hex dumbbell set with a rubber dumbbell set from 5 to 75. Also add in proper dumbbell racks, to hold them.
3. Remove all our Standard plates and bars, replacing everything with Olympic bars and plates.
4. Remove the rack cage. It can be a liability if someone uses it for benching or squatting and they are unsupervised. Even when someone spots someone benching, accidents can happen. My goal was to increase the dumbbell weight to replace this cage and the smith press can also be used for benching or squatting (but won't be as good as "regular" benching - but that's a sacrifice we made for safety).
5. Replace the unusable Roman Chair. We chose Cybex 5411.
6. Replace both treadmills. One was old enough to be considered an antique. We chose Star Trac S-TRc.
7. Replace the existing elliptical and then add one more. We chose True CSX.
8. Replace the upright bike with a recumbent bike. Recumbent bikes actually may seem easier - but actually burn more calories over upright bikes, because gravity isn't assisting your pedaling when you are seated. We chose True CS8.0.
9. Replace the existing benches (which were in bad shape) with two Cybex adjustable benches (0 degrees to 80 degrees) and one Cybex decline bench (-10 degrees to 80 degrees). We chose Cybex.
10. Replace the StairMaster 4000PT with StairMaster SC916.
11. Add a medicine ball set, along with a Swiss ball for abdominals.
12. Add a water fountain & filter.
13. Paint the room, add more lights, change the blinds, change the signage, grout the bathroom tiles,

It sounds like a lot, but I worked with Jay from The Gym Source, and he was great. I was able to make a plan, put it together, along with proposed costs and present it to the board.

It took a long time, but our hard work was finally completed last night, with the board members and other residents who joined our "Gym Committee" to make it happen. We kept some of the old equipment, like the Smith Press, the leg machine, the abdominal machine, and the multi gym. If I had my choice, I would have liked to replace a lot of those also, but we didn't have infinite funds and had to keep our budget around $30,000-40,000.

The gym isn't 100% complete, we still have to get some pictures for the walls. I was thinking of trying to find some old, cool illustrations from the 1900's of people at the gym, boxers, weight lifters, etc. Anyhow, that's still being worked on.

I wish I had some "before" pictures to give you an idea how everything looked. I regret not taking those, but at least above are the completed work. Enjoy!

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Well with all the serious talk going around Hoboken these days, how about something fun, and refreshing.

Ever since I bought my condo there seemed to be something just, missing, from my life. I lived with roommates in Hoboken since I moved up here and in some ways they were like a surrogate family or friends that were always at home with me. Now that I lived in my condo alone for two years, it's a bit empty. Even when I lived with roommates and would be watching TV or playing on my computer, it was nice to know there was someone else in the house. Now certainly there's not an exact parallel between a human roommate and a dog, but there's also something there, too. I could have had a cat or a bird or maybe some fish...but I wanted a dog for a very long time.

As some of you know from my Facebook updates, and posts over the last year or so, I have been doing a ton of research into getting a dog. There were lots and lots of factors to consider.

Like...is it right for the dog? I asked Opportunity Barks' Leigh Siegfried about that a few weeks ago, I wrote:

"Hello, I live by myself in a condo. I had dogs all my life, growing up, and my family members and many friends have dogs. I'm an active person, with a fairly busy life, but my weekends & nights are mostly free. I'm interested in getting a new furry friend, but i'm torn with a dilemma. I work about 9-10 hours a day. I certainly can get a dog walker for an afternoon walk, but the dog would be alone most of the day. Is this fair to the dog? I kind of feel guilty for locking up a dog in my condo all day. I'd be around for nights and weekends to be with the dog."

and she replied:

"Look, if everybody that had a dog didn't work 8 hours a day, there would be a lot MORE homeless dogs out there! I think you may want to consider a low energy dog that may already be in foster care, so that the foster folks know that
1. the dog IS crate trained
2. the dog IS comfortable being left alone for hours at a time
3. the dog IS house broken

That sounds like a win-win to me. And remember as you get to know your dog better, they may be able to afford freedom in the house and can get out of the doggie "condo" themselves. Even in a crate, a dog should have multiple things to chew on- kongs, bones, yada, that helps make crate time, less boring and gives a dog access to things to stimulate them.

You can also consider dog daycare if the dog enjoys being around other dogs too, and some walking services even offer mid-day hikes!"

At the time, I was looking to adopt. I did some looking around, getting in contact with various shelters, and viewing what they had available. But, I didn't have a dog jump out at me that was perfect for both me, and the dog.

Some of the factors was that I wanted a low energy dog, a companion breed, that could handle being alone in my home while I was at work. I had my heart set on French Bulldog, Bulldog, Boxer or Boston Terrier. I looked at lots of other breeds, for example, a Labrador Retriever...but didn't think it was fair to have that kind of dog in a condo all day alone.

I know some people are adamantly against dogs being alone at all, but I think Leigh presented a logical argument. The breeder was found by my sister, while we were looking on Petfinder for mixed breed dogs. The French Bulldogs were already 8 weeks old...and available from a registered AKC breeder in Southeast Ohio.

There are friends of mine that very much wanted me to find a homeless dog for my home, and in a way I do feel guilty for not looking longer. But I had to make a decision that was right for me...and right for a dog entering my home. At the end of the day, everyone needs to be happy and this was my decision. I hope that one day I can have more dogs in my life, once I have a home with a backyard, and can help rescue or foster dogs.

I'm very excited at this new chapter of my life. I'm certainly up for any advice from other dog owners and already reading up on what I have to do to "puppy proof" my home.

I don't have a name yet. I have been thinking of a bunch of names and given advice on names like Erving, Scrapple, Rocky, Ben, Will, Krimpet.

Thoughts? Ideas? Comments. Shoot me an email at philly2hoboken@gmail.com. Also if anyone can suggest a dog walker in Hoboken, i'm all ears.

In case you didn't understand my title...

Slowly, but surely...

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Over the last few months everyone always asks, "So, how's the new condo?"

My basic response has been, "Slowly, but surely the renovations have been coming along."

When FKI from Hobokenchat/Hoboken411 commented on a previous entry about the "H.A.T.T" (Hoboken Actual Time Translator), I laughed it off. Surely the renovations wouldn't take as long as a few months. My contractor told me everything would take 4 days, tops.

FKI, you were right!

My condo is basically 99% done. As you can see, I need to choose and install a kitchen light, along with two lights for above the granite countertop. I really 082607a.jpgsuck at picking things like this, and if anyone is good at something like this, your advice would be appreciated. I have next week off from Corporation X, and i'm not going anywhere, just chilling around town. I certainly can use that time to hit up Home Depot, but I hate just going to a store and wandering around - I like a PLAN.

I'm very happy with the work that was done, especially when compared to how my condo once looked, and my new glass kitchen table and chairs were delivered on Saturday. I spent a few weeks looking online at various tables, some glass and some wood. I checked out sites like Restoration Hardware and Crate and Barrel, along with a few others. I liked what Restoration Hardware had, but since the kitchen was small, 082607b.jpgI didn't want to plunk down $1200 for a table that may be useful in this condo, but not so useful in a future residence with a larger dining area.

One of the limitations of the condo is that space is at a premium, and I have to be careful about what furniture I buy and how I utilize the closets. Easily one of the best purchases I made was the EZ Closet shelving for my bedroom and hall closets. One of the poor choices I made was buying the leather chair and ottoman, along with a leather couch for my family room. 082607c.jpg
They just don't fit, and I think I have to sell the chair and ottoman and replace it with a love seat. As you can see from the picture, the glass mirror wall has been replaced with drywall. Yes, I realize I need something to put up on the walls, and that is on my "things to do" list at art.com.

I was at the meeting last night, which consisted of the Hoboken Historic Board committee, the developer, his lawyers and the architect representing him and neighbors (with their lawyers) and concerned citizens. About 20 people in a hallway on the 2nd floor of City Hall.

They not only switched, at the last minute, the night of this meeting, but adding to the confusion, they switched WHERE they were meeting to the 2nd floor!!! I found out AFTER the meeting that people got confused and left City Hall.

Now the consipracy theorists may be up in arms here, but I do have some good news.

1. The committee absolutely wants to see the building restored.
2. Members of the committee seriously questioned the need for condos to restore the Bank.
3. The public gave other examples of historic commericial real estate that was developed into profitable properties without the need to change the zoning from commerical to mixed used commerce/residential.
4. We had two lawyers there representing concerned citizens that both denounced the residential project, also stressing that the public bought their homes next to a commerical structure, not a mixed used residential/commerical structure. We would like to keep the building intact, and used for commerical purposes.

Here's a few bad points I need to point out:
1. This is classic - the architect said, "The building is deteriorating. In the last 2 years there has been rapid structural issues and the building is falling apart. We need to do this project to protect the building from falling down." Everyone there was incredulous! We basically said, "The owner BOUGHT a historic property. It is HIS JOB to make sure that such a property DOESN'T fall down and you cannot hold the City of Hoboken's feet to the fire about HIS RESPONSIBILITY to keeping a historic structure intact." Fucking idiots.
2. The owner never looked at any other possibility of funding the restoration of the Bank except for his mixed use commercial/residential idea. In other words, they keep howling how they can't restore the Bank without building condos, but never looked at any other way of restoring the building, either. One of the members of the committee pointed out that there are grants available on the state and federal level to restore historic properties. But the owner didn't like all those "restrictions" that went along with such grants, and kept shaking his head "no" when it was brought up.
3. The owner is clearly an curmudgeon. He was rolling his eyes at every valid point that people brought up about protecting the structure and keeping the integrity of the neighborhood intact. It was clear to anyone in the room that this guy was angry that people were against his money hungry proposals. Very snippy with anything that the public said and very nice and polite to the council.

There is simply no support by the public here, and many members of the commmittee seriously questioned this project. Everyone loves his idea to restore the Bank and how it could be made to look, but mostly everyone agrees that adding residential units on top of the building isn't in the best interest of the community. The owner is trying to get thirteen - THIRTEEN - variances for this property.

One really good one? They want a liquor license for the 240 seat restaurant they want to build. We already have Nag's Head which is less than 100 feet away from the Bank, and First street has Mulligan's, O'Donohughes, Buskers and McSwiggan's. Cool, that's exactly what we need on First street - another loud bar with patrons spilling out on to the street (and some driving!) at 3am on the weekends, while the residents are trying to sleep.

Another variance? They want valet parking. Anyone been around First street? Its very crowded with traffic. Can you imagine cars lined up for valet parking? Where are they going to park the cars? In parking lots that are already overcrowded? How do the valets get from the parking lot BACK to park more cars? Run 5 blocks? Its insanity.

The guy has some ridiculously bold ideas about what he "envisions" but doesn't make a practical case of how this block is going to support a 240 seat restaurant (oh, they are doing catering, too, which i'm sure will be great when their trucks stop by to pick up deliveries on Clinton and double park to block traffic.) and a 6 story residential building.

Bottom line is these guys have very little support from what I could gather from listening to the council members and even speaking to some after the meeting. More questions were raised at the meeting about how the developers plan to protect the facade of the building with new construction and what steps they have taken about doing this. There is another meeting scheduled for July 10 to address this and next week's meeting with Hoboken Planning Board is postponed.

If you are free July 10th, the meeting starts at 7pm, but they don't get to us until the end of the meeting (like 8pm). We certainly could use your support. Thank you to everyone who showed up last night.

Out With The Old

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Slowly but surely, we are gettin' there. New ceiling goes up soon, with high-hat lights, on a dimmer, and a crown moulding around the cabinets. Granite people coming on Saturday to measure countertop, and should have the granite in by sometime next week. New tile floor and a matching tile backsplash to follow. My brother in law coming by the end of the month to swap out the broken A/C unit.

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The Armenian Nightmare

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It has almost been two weeks since I moved into my condo.

I tried to get the condo ready before I moved in, even staying at my old apartment for two weeks to give my contractor and painter time to work on my new condo while I wasn't there.

The contractor, Sammy, and I went over a series of goals in my condo, and he did a lot of work on my place before I moved in. For the last ten days, however, he was waiting to install my shelving. I kept reminding him to do it, but he had other priorities in mind and other jobs to work on. It was getting to a point where I was getting really angry. I was living out of boxes.

People would say to me, "Wow, you must be so excited to have your own place! Aren't you happy?"

No. I wasn't happy. I was pissed off. Sammy imploded my kitchen. My closet shelving wasn't done. I felt like I was on a camping trip in my new home. All my clothes were in boxes. When I would wake up, I would shower, then rummage around in my boxes for something to wear.

The "American Dream" was instead an "Armenian Nightmare". I was like a refugee in a war-torn condo, living on the brink somewhere between homeowner and homeless.

For the last 10 days I kept saying to Sammy: "Hey, can we get the closet shelving done?"

Sammy would be like "Sure, sure. I will take care of that very soon."

I'd rush home from work, like a kid on Christmas morning, hoping i'd walk in the house and see the closet shelving done. Each day i'd be disappointed to see that nothing has changed. I would call him and sometimes get his voice mail. When I could reach him it was "always tomorrow".

Finally, I called Sammy with a new attitude. Up until this point I had been nice to the guy. Persistent, but nice. My tone changed.

I already paid Sammy over 1/2 of the money we agreed on for our budget. My phone call wasn't nasty, but I just said basically that I have been living in boxes for the last 10 days and I have been waiting for him to put up the closet shelving. I reminded him what I already paid him, and asked him basically point blank: "Please - help me to live like a human being. Get me out of living from boxes and put up the shelving."

Sammy pulled through and put up my closet shelving on Wednesday. I got home from work and I was very excited to see what he did. It was amazing the difference I was feeling while unboxing everything I owned and put it on my new shelves. I had so much storage space! It was the first time since I moved into my condo that it started to feel like...a home.


Here's some shots of the before and after pictures after the jump...

Boy This Is Strange

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The move is complete.

I moved to my new condo on Saturday. Everything went fairly well. I rented a U-Haul truck, and begged some friends to help me move. Brad, Chris and a co-worker at the bar, George, helped me move.

Over the last week, I took care to box as many items as I could. I also set aside a ton of items that fell under my golden rule, "Have I used this in the last year?" The items that I haven't used included an old snowboard, 3 old PCs (out of 6 PCs!), softcover and hardcover books, old pc games, pc stereo speakers, an old dart board (with Grateful Dead wall-protector that is put between the dartboard and the wall for protection from errant darts). I hope to have a gate sale next weekend if the weather olds out. Whatever I can't sell, I probably will trash.

The new condo is in disarray. The contractor has been working on my place, and the changes look like they will be great, but they aren't 100% done. The glass wall is down, and in its place is a sheet rock wall in dire need of a paint job. The closets are expanded, without doors or shelving - so I can't hang anything up. condo 019.jpg
The kitchen is basically empty, and my beer/soda sits in a cooler with ice. The appliances are in boxes and there are no shelves, cabinets or sink. My old toilet is still leaking but functional, and my new toilet sits in the living room. I don't own a shower curtain, so I have to contort myself to avoid splashing too much water on the floor (I should have a new one soon).

I think it will be at least another week, until everything else, besides the kitchen, is done. So all that delays my painter. Chris painted the bedroom, and I think it looks outstanding. The ceiling is painted white, and the walls are a nice shade of green. Unlike the previous owner who decided "EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE BLUE" with the room, Chris was smart about making the trim & window ledge white, and it really "pops" when you walk in. Unfortunately, Chris told me that he doesn't want to paint the rest of the condo until the contractor is done with his work. He feels that if he paints it now, that he will be doing double work because the contractor still has things to hang, saw, spackle and build which will create more work for the painter to fix touch ups and hand prints.

My air conditioning/heat in my bedroom is dead, along with the airconditioning in the family room, due to the kitchen construction knocking out the thermostat unit. The weather has been fairly nice. I don't look forward to a heatwave, however.

Good news? Well, my internet works. My Tivo is connected and cable TV is working. To me, that was probably the #1 thing I need in my home. Life without that connection to the internet or having TV only lasted for a few hours between my move yesterday and today. It was a long 12 hours.

Someone commented on my blog a few weeks ago about how moving to a new section of Hoboken would bring about new places to explore & experience. They were so right. I really do feel, in a way, like i'm in a whole new town. Like I know i'm in Hoboken, but when I think, "Ok, I need Windex" - I don't know where to go. Oh, at my old place, i'd walk 4 blocks to the A&P. That is about a 13 block walk now. 5 blocks from my new place is the CVS on Washington & Newark. When I think, "I need a 6 pack of beer" I don't take the 1 block walk to Garden Wine & Liquor Store and talk to Phil. Now I have Hoboken Discount Liquors on Willow and Newark or Hoboken Vine at 400 Newark.

There are stores that I have been poking around this weekend and knew *of* them, but never bought anything. I went to Luca Brasi's on Thursday (got the Chicken Parm Hero) and Friday (tried the Fuget Aboutit Hero). Both were very tasty, and the Fuget Aboutit may have been even better than Vito's Hero. It was one of those moments where I am eating it and thinking "Damn, this is SO good."

I also have been to Legal Beans. I have passed by there numerous times and it was always packed. I went there for brunch last week, and then for brunch again today. Didn't have much today, just some fruit, an everything bagel with cream cheese and a "zombie" chocolate/espresso coffee. Very cool vibe to the place, I absolutely see this becoming my #1 place to eat. It is 2 blocks from the condo, and the prices are great. Reminds me of an old-school diner with a new-school eclectic motif. Met Molly the waitress there today. Should be on a first name basis with everyone there before summer, I will bet.

Also checked out Sobsey's Produce today on 1st and Bloomfield. It is sort of like the red-headed step child of Garden of Eden. It has a very nice range of fresh fruits, vegetables and off the beaten path condiments, but i'd walk an extra 3 blocks for GoE.

When we moved in Saturday we got Filippo's pizza and a 12 pack of Yuengling. Holy shit! Great crusty 'za. I was planning to eat at Leo's Grandevous, but I went back to Filippo's last night, grabbed two slices, some seltzer and a fresh made cannoli to watch The Soprano's.

My goal this week is to zero in on the cabinet and countertop situation. I have two people working on it from different stores, and my main problem is finding the time after work (I get home at 6:45pm) to race out to the stores and look at the shelving. I may have to put it off until Saturday, but every day I delay are more days that I am without a kitchen. Then again, this isn't something I want to rush, because to me the most important component of the construction work will be the kitchen. I don't want to skimp on cabinets and then be disappointed in what I purchased.

Whirlwind

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Things have been...hectic lately.

A quick list of things I have had to deal with:

1. My air conditioners. When I bought the place, and did the inspection, 2 out of 3 wall mounted air condtioners weren't working properly. One was dead, and the other's heat pump didn't work properly. The 3rd was ok. So when it came to close, the owner credited me money to fix the A/C units. I spoke to his repair guy, after the close, and he told me it would cost "x" amount to fix the A/C unit, and "y" amount to replace the broken one.

I wasn't credited for the "y" amount by the seller, just an "x" amount which was supposed to cover the costs. I called my lawyer, Tom Foley, who started to look into it with the other lawyer, emailed me: "We can assert that the Seller was aware of the condition and intentionally misrepresented that it was in working order."

While that was going on I did some research of my own. I checked the serial number of my A/C unit (52SQD307301AA), and googled it. After a bit of work, I found a site which I could plug in the old unit serial number and it would provide me with a compatible "modern" serial number (52PQ-307-3). Then I googled the modern AC and found out they cost about $650 (taxes/shipping included).

That $650 cost was about a fraction of what I was credited at the time of sale. I was pretty psyched, I could get 3 brand new A/C units (with heat pumps) and be set. Things were looking good.

Then I called a Carrier authorized dealer. I explained that I could buy the units and if someone could install them, what would it cost? All we were doing was taking out an existing unit, of the same size and shape, and slapping in a new unit. Couldn't be THAT hard. What would it cost? $300? $500?

The guy was nice, but was like "Oh, you would need 2 guys for that and it could take a couple of hours. Including a guy outside on a ladder. Probably about $2,000 for the job."

I blurted out, "$2,000 dollars?! What are you nuts? We are just taking an old one out and putting a new one in, should take about 30 minutes, max!"

He was nonplussed about it. "Hey, you need a trained refrigerator technician there, not some handy man. That's what it costs."

I hung up the phone and I was deflated. I was thinking I could get in 3 new A/C units and maybe pay some guy like $300 bucks for an hour or two to just put them in. I was now getting worried, the whole buying the house thing wasn't so great now. This was starting to become a Money Pit (more on this later). Fuck.

In times past, I usually dealt with my problems on my own, but I was getting a bit desperate because I was watching my funds drain a lot faster than I expected. I have become a check writing machine. Painter. Contractor. Cabinents. Stainless steel appliances. New couch, chair and ottoman. This was all starting to add up, big time. My original estimates were very naive. The money I set aside for the upgrades simply wasn't enough and I already was working on two mortgages - one was 80% of the principal and the other was 6% of the principal (I put down 14% in cash).

One thing i'm proud of is that I was relatively debt-free, aside from paying PSE&G back $100 a month for the next 50 months (a special shout-out to Kristen and Jon who agreed to pay me back, and I hope Karma is a boomerang to those roommates who refused to pay me back).

I thought about just getting a credit card with 0% APR for 12 months and spread out whatever I needed to do. But I also wanted to bang out that second mortgage as soon as I could, too, and not put myself into more debt.

I may have gotten lucky. My mom knew that my brother-in-law was handy with things like Air Conditioning. She called him and he called me, assuring me that this wouldn't be that hard to do, since the A/C units are already in place. He would come up one weekend with my sister, and the kids and replace it. I ordered one unit today, for the bedroom, and if that goes well I will order two more at a later time.

2. My mailbox. The owner was also nice enough to forget to have a mailbox key at the close (the owner lives in London now, so he wasn't at the close, nor was his lawyer). The last few days has been Mailbox 101 for me. I first went to the Post Office at River Street and asked the manager there what I needed to do. He told me I just had to get a locksmith to pop open the box and replace the lock. While talking to him someone was Hoboken Locks (6th and Washington) was walking behind me and the manager said, "There's a locksmith right there!"

I spoke to the guy, and he said "Hey, its easy. You can pay me $67 and I'll open it up and replace the lock. Or, you take two screwdrivers and do it yourself for $7."

He gave me a basic explanation of how to do it. Now for those that know me, i'm pretty good with computers but pretty lousy with anything "handy" related. I just have the worst luck. But this was pretty easy, I quickly popped open the mailbox and removed the old lock. I went to the ACE hardware store on 1st. I bought a lock set they had for mailboxes. I was feeling confident. I put the lock in...

...and it wouldn't close.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

The old lock was at the ACE hardware store. I threw it out when I got the new lock, thinking that this was a done deal.

I went back to the hardware store. I glumly explained that I needed my lock back and went into their trashcan, digging for my old lock. Fortunately the trashcan was only filled with paper products, and one coffee cup. I found my lock after about 2 minutes. It was a bit embarassing to do this in front of a line of people behind me.

I compared the two locks, and the locking latch for the new lock was different than the old lock. I figured I could try to use the old latch with the new lock, and went back to my condo. That didn't work either. I returned the new lock to ACE and went down to Hoboken lock to see if they had a locking latch similar to the one I had.

Hoboken Lock was closed on Saturday at 2pm, and by the time I got there it was 2:30. They were closed Sunday. I had to go there Monday to get the new lock. What a waste. It was a solid 2 1/2 hours of my day with me trekking up and back to ACE hardware three times.

3. Cabinets are expensive. I know nothing about cabinets before I bought this place. I figured a decent set would cost about $1,500-2,000 since my kitchen was relatively small. Boy, was I wrong. My contractor and I priced out two brands, and both came back from $3,000-4,000 without granite or the sink. FUCK. My old kitchen is GONE. Everything is ripped out. The cabinets are gone. The appliances are gone (except the fridge). The new appliances are coming on Friday. I'm still working with my contractor on this and already priced around with other places, like Home Depot, and their prices were even more expensive than what the contractor priced.

I closed on my condo Thursday, and I now own my own property for the first time in my life.

People have been asking me, "So are you excited?"

I wrote about it before, I love a lot of things about the condo, and its potentional, but right now it isn't a HOME. Yet. I have a lot of work I need to sink into it. I have minor construction to complete. I have to paint the place (notice that the word "PAIN" is in "PAINT"). I have my appliances on order, and I should get them in about 2 weeks. I have to move, and today I made arrangements for a U-Haul truck and boxes. I'm going to have to cash in my chips with one or two friends to see if they can help me move. Matt, I'm looking at you, buddy.

I think once I am done with everything, the condo will be gorgeous. I just hope I have enough money to cover everything. I have a budget, and have to pick and choose what gets priority in upgrades.

Hey, funny thing happened Thursday. I was mid way through signing my life away, and entering the wonderful world of debt when my lawyer and I started to talk about Hoboken. 040807d.jpg
I was telling him everything that I loved and hated about Hoboken, and he mentioned how he was running for office in the 6th ward...

Hey, I live in the 6th Ward?

Oops. My lawyer is Thomas Foley. For whatever reason, I didn't make the connection between all the great information from Hoboken411 and the fucking emails I have been getting from him for the last 3 weeks. Yes, I can be dense. Want to know how dense I am?

I told him I wasn't voting for him.

Sorry, I explained, but Bill Noonan is my guy. Known him for years. Trust the guy to run this town in a fair and honest way. Isn't connected with the "Old Boys Network" of Hudson County. I know he will do what is right for his ward and what is right for Hoboken. I told Tom Foley this, to his face, simply explaining that I don't turn my backs on my friends. Thomas was gracious and cordial about it, and I immediately felt bad for being so blunt with him. Then again, I did give Thomas well over 1,000 reasons why I could be honest with him, since he was working for me.

I sincerely hope either Thomas or Bill win. Thomas presents some great ideas also and I already like the guy. I wish that Bill and Thomas just weren't running against each other in the same ward against Angelo “Nino” Giacchi. Nino is well entrenched in the 6th ward, and I hope either Thomas or Bill just consolidate their effort to overthrow the Hudson County Political Machine.

I finished signing about 100 documents and left the office to check out my new pad. I bought a 6 pack of Yuengling, sat in my empty apartment and drank a few beers in celebration. I started to sketch my kitchen with a Home Depot kitchen kit, which has graph paper and cabinents to pick out. Man, I suck at that. I must have measured each wall about 10 times (no, it wasn't the beer) and then would add up the size of the appliances and counter top and got different numbers. It was frustrating. My friend called me, and we decided to have dinner at Four L's.

Four L's was previously known as Favia. I never went into Favia before, but I knew of their menu which had light dishes and pizza for a calorie conscious consumer. They completely renovated the restaurant, and truth be told it looks a lot like Mikie Squared! Here's a shot I took of it on Hoboken St. Patty's Day:
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We sat down at a high top table for two, and ordered some drinks. They have a good wine list and lots of drink specials each day. On Thursday, select wines were $5, and we were there during happy hour which had discounts on martinis and beers. I ordered a glass of red wine, and my friend ordered a martini.

We tried the crustini appetizer, which is toasted italian bread, topped with meatballs and smoked mozzarella. The bread was entirely too hard, and nearly impossible to chew without breaking a tooth. I even showed the waitress how difficult they were even to cut with a knife. We ate 3 out of 5 of them and just didn't want to try to down the last two. I was disappointed in it, and in some ways I was hoping they would have comped us the appetizer. We did our best to eat it, but the bread was either stale and then toasted, or fresh and over-toasted. It was edible, but it was like a battle to down.

But my disappointment turned to pleasure when I got my burger. It was topped with mozzarella and roasted peppers. I added some A1 steak sauce, and it was heaven. Cooked to a perfect medium rare, I devored it. The french fries were ok, but not as good as Mikie's sweet potato string fries. I only ate a few of them. My friend got lobster ravioli, and also said they were delicious. I was going to order that dish if she didn't order it, but I have a thing about both people ordering the same dish at a new restaurant. I want to either try or hear from others as much as I can about a new place, to find out if it is worth my "restaurant rotation".

Do you have a "restaurant rotation"? I do. I have certain places that I will eat at in Hoboken on a regular basis. Here's what I usually eat at:

Indian - Karma Cafe. Usually I get this delivered, rather than eating there alone. Karma is pricey, but love that Lamb Korma with naan bread.
American - Court Street. Great place to sit at the bar, read a Hoboken Reporter, and eat.
Sushi - Maru, of course. Go to the liquor store a few doors down, grab a silver 20 oz can of Sapporo for $3.50 and prepare yourself for the best fish in Hoboken (sorry Sushi House, Sushi Lounge and Robongi - I have tried your restaurants multiple times and Maru is consistently superior).
Chinese - Precious. Again, I rarely go there alone, and usually get it delivered.
Steak - none exist. I go into the city and eat at Strip House, which is heavenly. I'd go to Peter Lugers, but going to Brooklyn is far too annoying for me. I heard good things about Frankie and Johnnies, and in my 13 years I was there once, was disappointed, and didn't return.
Italian Deli - Ok, I know it isn't a restaurant, but I have to say that Vito's is great, but I have a strong feeling that I won't be walking 8 blocks at my new condo to get a Vito's hero. Anyone know if Luca Brasi's is good? It is a few blocks from my new place, and looks like my kind of italian deli.

That's just a sampling of the places I frequent? What are your favorite Indian, Chinese, Sushi and American restaurants?

Weekend Sick and Condo Update

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It's sort of hard to blog when nothing exciting is going on. The weekend was 'blah'.

I saw Dr. Messishi on Friday, and he was a very nice man. He was thorough with the exam, and put me on Cipro, an antibiotic. Also took some blood for some tests, too. I called out sick for bartending, because I wasn't sure if I would even feel better by Saturday night. Also, i'm not a big fan of people who work in the service industry who work while sick. I understand that people want to make their money, but if they are sick and passing it along to your customers they are being selfish. People should think about others over themselves in that situation.

Spent Friday night in. Spent Saturday night in. Spent Sunday night in. Mostly watching tv and playing on the computer.

I took care of my new parking spot on Saturday. It is actually kind of sweet, since it is across the street from my condo. It will be really novel to have my car so close to where I live for once. Only problem is that the parking is tandem, but the lot owners said that a single spot should be opening up in about 2 months, with no price difference. Also they noted that people who live at the condo on Newark get first priority for parking at the spot, so it is something they said I could transfer if I sold my unit, which I think is great. It *is* a rental, and it *is* month to month, so you never know - in 6 months the owners could sell the lot to someone building a new high rise residential unit.

I should be closing on the condo this Thursday. Remember the whole 750 sq feet vs 650 sq feet? Bad news was that during the process I found out that the square footage was wrong. But good news is that I was able to negotiate a lower price because of it. I saved quite a bundle!

I'm excited about closing on the condo, but also dreading it.

I'm a simple guy. I sort of enjoy stability in my life. Makes things easier. When my life becomes unstable, and i'm doing a million things at once, it simply becomes annoying.

Once I close, I have to get a contractor to do the work that I want. An entire wall of the family room is glass. I have to get him to rip that down. I have to modify two closets. I have to basically axe the entire kitchen, removing the cabinets, appliances and take down a partial wall. I'm sure permits will be needed. I don't know a soul in city hall, and cringe at how long it may take to get a permit (advice would be helpful to anyone in the know).

That will take a week if not longer. Then I got to paint the place. I thought about doing it myself, but honestly, I don't want to do it myself. I have no desire to spend an entire day with a case of beer, 2 pizzas and inviting a few friends over for a "painting party" or something. I don't know *how* to paint properly. I don't want my new place looking like something out of a college frat house - it looks that way now, with the garish color choices the guy before me chose - i'd very much like a pro to take care of it.

Ok, while that work is getting done, then I have to go to Home Depot and choose new cabinets and countertop. I went to Home Depot last week to look. It was...a bit overwhelming. There are like a trillion choices. I know basically what I like, but don't have a firm vision for what, exactly, I want. I did see another apartment at 300 Newark that had the "look" similar to what I wanted for the kitchen. Only difference is that I was thinking of going with a darker granite. I'm not a huge fan of the hanging lights above the breakfast bar, but do like the ceiling mounted lights, on a fader. I have to find out how hard it will be to construct that, i'd very much like something like it designed for the kitchen.

Once the reconstruction, painting, cabinents are done, then need to get the new appliances and some new furniture (couch, chair & ottoman and kitchen table).

Once those are done, need to then see how much money I have left, and design the closets with EZ Closets. Its a pretty impressive website, you can build your closet online, and design a closet with shelving, cabinets, drawers, laundry basket, and hangars depending on the size of the closet.

Then, when i'm done all that, I need to see how much money I have left over and see if I can do anything about upgrading the bathroom, too. I have a strong feeling that the bathroom will have to wait.

I'm sure a lot of people love designing, planning and building their dream rooms. This would be fun if I wasn't also working on a timeline.

See while all this is going on, I have to also move out of my apartment. I told my roommates that i'd be out my mid-month (April 15), and they have a new roommate lined up. I told them yesterday if they could extend that out to April 22. I'm still not even sure if that will be enough time. The "major" work that needs to be done is the kitchen and painting. Once that's done, I can move in and take care of the appliances, furniture and closets.

If I didn't have the timeline, no problem. I have a contractor, who was a referred to me by my real estate agent, and he is coming on Thursday (after I close) to look at the place, and give me an estimate on the work. I already got a quote from a painting company ($1,900!), but i'm going to stop around to see other prices (know anyone? mail me!).

I hope with the 3 day weekend, it will give me some time to work with Home Depot to design a new kitchen. Then I have to juggle the contractor, the painting and the cabinet install. Not fun.

...To The Big Time...

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I'm out of attorney review. Next step...Home inspection and get my financing squared away.

Also if anyone reading this knows a good contractor in Hoboken, feel free to let me know. I'd like to do some kitchen renovations (new cabinents, sink, countertop, minor electrical work) and if I have the money, i'd also like to do my bathroom, too. Also need to get shelving done for both closets, too, and one wall of the living room is entirely glass. Don't ask me. It makes the place look like a dance studio. I'd like to take that down.

I'm now looking online at various things, like new appliances and Kohler fixtures. I don't want this to become "The Money Pit", but I also think with the right amount of work and money my good apartment can look spectacular.

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