Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I heard a great bit on NPR this morning about random acts of kindness.
These random acts take the forms of Secret Santas, handing out $100 bills to total strangers in thrift stores, cafes and other places that may be frequented by downtrodden folks. Larry Stewart of Kansas City started the tradition in the 70s after a stranger gifted him with $20 at a time when he was down on his luck. After making his fortune in telecomm, he (anonymously) wandered through the community during the holidays, handing out cash to those in need.
Since his death a few years ago, others have picked up where Stewart left off. The NPR piece claims there are anonymous Secret Santas in about a dozen U.S. cities, mostly CEOs who feel like they have money to give back to the community.
The story included audio of the "new" Kansas City Secret Santa giving $100 to a couple in an urban thrift store. They were shopping for a space heater. The Secret Santa asked them how much they had to spend. When they responded, "$10," he inconspicuously passed them a $100 bill and said something to the effect of, "now you've got $110." Even though I couldn't see their faces, I could feel this couple light up with gratefulness and relief.
See more info and listen to the story here.
I always love hearing stories of kindness and generosity, but this year feels especially impactful because of prolific job loss, real estate distress and overall financial woefulness. I hope there are even more Secret Santas on the streets next year.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
- Killer locale (proximity to shops, restaurants, bars and an overall walkable and bustling area
- Affordable rent
- Bigger than a traditional one bedroom
- Didn't have to sign a traditional lease
- Includes water, trash and heat
- Slightly worse commutes for both me and the hubs
- Roxxi's knee surgery seems to have slowed recovery due to now having to walk up and down the stairs
- Dan = the dishwasher (i.e., we don't have one)
- No washer and dryer in our unit (but at least there are shared ones in the basement)
- Aesthetically, the place could use a little help
Friday, December 18, 2009
"Hey Dad, It's around 2 o'clock. I just picked up those golf clubs. I had to withdraw 4 blocks here. There are 350 some reason. A. T M would work, but that's fine, thank you know that one of the the Fall or. Predefine about alright. 50 100 I heard. Whatever 200 trying to get you to know if it's Ross I can definitely grow, strictures. Anyways, got your fellow they've got a birthday present, so I'm excited and Andy, I was Peters Realty stopping by the office to drop off perishable Christ's birth so very nice. And yeah, I'm just sorry. I'll talk to you soon. We have a good day."
You tell me what that probably means...
Sunday, December 13, 2009
What I thought: Google Voice seems like a great way to handle voicemails. When you can't listen to your voicemails, Google Voice delivers them to your e-mail and to your phone in written form. Wow, this will make life a lot easier! Not to mention I don't always want to physically listen to my voicemails -- now I can just read them! (If you need to listen, you can click to play the message.)
Reality: Google Voice only accurately translates about 40 percent of what people say. Convenient? Ummm... maybe a little bit. Funny? YES! The computer generated messages are effing hilarious!
A few examples:
(From my brother Ben)
What Google Voice captured: "Hey give me a man. Gimme a call later."
What he really said: "Hey Katy B. It's Ben. Give me a call later."
(From my sister Anna)
What Google Voice captured: "Hey Hannah, I, and things dying at some point. Mister cost. You do want to go on Saturday evening. I don't know it's not to be dinner something. So gimme a call man. Love you bye."
What she really said: "Hey..umm it's Anna. I'll be driving from Columbus to Dahlonega on Saturday evening and I didn't know if you wanted to get dinner or something. So give me a call and... I love you, bye."
What Google Voice captured: "Hey Baby, It's me a call. I'm just leaving a message and sorry I missed your call earlier. I'm heading home. I'll be home, so give me a call if you don't get me through everything lines give you a call back. I should be up for a while. Talk to you later. Bye."
What she really said: "Hey Katy, it's Mirabelle. I'm just leaving the gym. I'm sorry I missed your call earlier. I'm heading home and I"ll be home so just give me a call. If you don't get me for whatever reason, just give me a call back. I should be up for a while. Talk to you later. Bye" (hey baby back atcha!)
(And my all-time favorite, from my brother Paul)
What Google Voice captured: "Can a quit being. Lana Peterson 5 o'clock on Friday. I'll be back."
What he really said: "Hey Katy. Quit being lame and answer your phone. It's five o'clock on Friday. Love you. Bye."
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Kyle isn't just a fellow Georgian and University of Georgia alum, he's a dude with an inspirational story. As if being an athlete isn't hard enough, Kyle has been a winning athlete in high school and (club) college wrestling... with no arms and no legs.
Kyle was born with a congenital defect that led to him not having any elbows or knees. While many people would let this get them down, Kyle has managed to not just led an average life, but an extraordinary one. He's regularly on the speaker's circuit, encouraging others to be the best they can be no matter what the circumstances. And boy would he know about beating the odds! This blog/article says his senior year record was 35-16. Incredible.
In our brief conversation, I told Kyle about something that you all may be interested in, too. I told him about another news piece I'd seen about a guy born with no legs who's made a project out of photographing people's reactions to him. He rolls around on a skateboard and snaps photos from below of others he approaches. The reactions to range from smiles and admiration to shock, dismay and discomfort. To add an additional level of interest to his photography project, Kevin Connolly traveled to several foreign countries to see how the reactions differ there. The result is a moving, interesting and brilliant series of photographs that Connolly describes as "15 Countries, 31 Cities, 32,000 photos, One Stare" on his site. Check out Kevin (another incredibly inspirational person) and his photography project here: http://www.therollingexhibition.com/
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The house is sold ― and the papers have been signed. Closing wrapped just a few minutes ago.
Considering what happened when I prematurely posted our good news before, Dan and I wanted to wait this offer out before we said anything publicly. We accepted what I refer to as "offer #3" back on November 7. And because of the First Time Homebuyer Act ending on 12/1 (meaning everything had to be wrapped up by then), the whole process moved very quickly. Timeline is below:
- Binding Agreement Date: November 7th
- Due Diligence Ended: November 17th (meaning between 11/7 and 11/17, the buyers could pull out of the deal without explanation, without recourse)
- Financing and Appraisal: FHA and ran through closing (due to short close)
- Closing Date: November 25th
- Move out date: Saturday, November 28th at 11 pm
Our goal in selling the house wasn't to try and make a big profit; instead, we hoped to sell at an okay price then make the most of this down housing market on the "buy" side. Because Dan bought the house before we met, this was my first experience with the whole house buying/selling process. It's been exciting, challenging, frustrating and sometimes a little emotional. But the late nights in September to get the house ready to list, keeping the house clean for three months straight and stressful negotiations were all worth it in the end.
I may think of additional advice later, but here are some things we learned in the process of selling our home:
- Your house is only worth as much as someone will pay for it.
- Not everyone will love your house as much as you did (we had nearly 30 visits before we even got our first offer).
- You can't assume the first offer will stick.
- A hardworking, professional, honest, well-selling agent (or team of agents) is invaluable. We are grateful to The Peters Company (Keller-Williams) for the selling, following up, and helping with negotiating and closing the deal. In this down economy, selling and closing a house is tough business.
- Professional photography makes a world of difference in terms of giving online viewers a great first impression of your property. (FYI - we didn't pay extra for our professional photos for our listing; this was included when we listed with The Peters Company)
Closing ended on a good note. The buyers told Dan that they fell in love with the house the moment they stepped in the door. They were disappointed to hear previously that it was under contract then were grateful to find out they had another chance to buy it. The buyers were also very happy with the solid records we've kept about the house (everything from appliance instructions and explanations about what plants were used in landscaping to work orders and termite inspection reports).
From here, we move into an apartment for the next five to eight months. It will be fun to live in a different area for a little while (the Virginia-Highlands!) and to start house hunting.
Cheers to the next chapter of this adventure...
Monday, November 23, 2009
- Nice hardwood floors
- No one will build in backyard because it's sloped and has a creek running through it
- Four bedrooms
- Enough within price range that we could put some money in it
- Would shorten our commutes by five to ten minutes
- Good-sized deck
- Sloped yard with creek running through (i.e., not a very usable backyard) — the yard could also make the house victim to flooding/additional moisture
- Smaller kitchen
- House felt dark and moist (it didn't illicit the the warm, cheery feeling you hope to feel when you see a house)
- Damage to sunroom from limb falling may be worse than what it appears
- 1-car carport would be inconvenient
- Didn't feel like it had as much usable living space (though I think that it could work size-wise; the set up would be critical)
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
- Great curb appeal
- Move-in ready
- Nice-sized front and backyards (with deck for entertaining)
- Four bedrooms plus a second living area
- Two-car garage
- Good neighborhood (good school districts, opt-in swim/tennis community, friendly neighbors)
- Wish the kitchen was a little larger (it's cute but it's about the same size as our current kitchen when you consider counter space and cabinet space)
- Top of price range — and the sellers haven't budged on the price over the course of the listing
- Laundry in the garage (note: this isn't a deal breaker by any means, but it is a little of a con)
- Master suite is small-ish (bath has compact stand-up shower and could benefit from a light cosmetic update; bedroom itself is about the same as ours now)
- Fourth bedroom is more suitable for an office — or eventual nursery (ah!)
Monday, November 16, 2009
- Killer location
- HUGE (we joked that we could get lost in this house)
- Period detailing
- No covered parking
- Countless repair needs inside and out
- Foreclosure (means it will likely be sold "as is" — and it's tough to estimate how much the repairs would cost)
- Choppy layout
Our first impression inside was a good one. The house featured high ceilings, brick fireplaces, gorgeous hardwood floors and other 1920's/1930's period details. The layout was inviting and the rooms all good sized.
Wait for it... wait for it...
Oooh. The kitchen and bathrooms need major updating. Booo! The kitchen cabinets haven't been updated in 30-plus years and the floor is a bad linoleum. The bathrooms wouldn't be as major to update, but the cruddy broken tiles and dated tubs have to go.
- High pitch in attic could mean a more affordable addition/expansion later
- Decent-sized master suite with need office nook and relatively spacious master bath
- Storage in an unfinished basement/crawlspace
- Gorgeous hardwoods
- Great curb appeal
- Stunning period details (love me some old house!)
- Spacious deck in backyard (plus a private deck on the master suite)
- No covered parking (typical for this area)
- Carpet in some areas of the house
- Top of our price range
- Older home may equal more upkeep
- If the price were lower, we may be convinced otherwise... but we were really would prefer a 3/2 to have a second living area or basement
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Here are the ones we'll be swinging by on Sunday:
4/2 in North Atlanta
I'll keep you guys posted about the hunt (planning to take pictures when we stop by each house)! We'll also be asking our realtor about other neighborhoods we ought to check out. Know if any great houses for sale in the Atlanta area with at least three bedrooms and and two bathrooms (and hopefully a family room or basement)? Comment with the link!
Thursday, November 5, 2009
(And to VeryVera's brand manager, I apologize that the below formatting got all funky when I copied and pasted from my e-mail.)
See details below: