Thursday, May 31, 2007

Operation: Dinner Out

Sunday, May 13th 2007: BBQ at Beth & Jim's with Chris, Therese & Graham

Tuesday, May 22nd 2007: Cafe Belo with Kim & Dan

Saturday, May 26th 2007: Sunset Grill with Mark & Jess, Bill & Kara, Geoff & Sabrina, Jacob, Hobie and Diebold - after our first yard sale day, drinking yards became the norm...

Sunday, May 27th 2007: Wu Chon House with Geoff & Sabrina

Thursday, May 31st 2007: Sunset Grill with Birge

Monday, May 28, 2007

Our Much-Needed Yard Sale

Saturday, May 26th 2007

Due to our impending move and lack of space in our new apartment, we decided that we should have a yard sale. The one weekend that worked out best turned out to be Memorial Day weekend, so that did not bode well for us since most folk would probably be out of town or at the beach during the day, but we tried our best under the circumstances.

Most of the goods were items that we just no longer needed or wanted or their novelty ran out a long time ago as well as several size 6 and 6.5 pairs of shoes, clothing and some small furniture. We were fortunate to have really great landlords that allowed us to use the front yard area which was enclosed by a fence and had a black top surface, making the setup pretty easy. They even threw in a few items of their own to sell, which was kind of cool in the beginning, but it turned out that they had a different approach from us and may have scared people away from looking closer at everything.

The morning started off rather well, with morning passerby's stopping in and buying several items. But as lunch time rolled around, it got really hot with the sun overhead, and there were fewer people passing by. We had posted some flyers in the vicinity, but it wasn't until later in the day that I realized the major intersections with lots of foot traffic weren't covered. So Brian and I took turns in posting more.

Yay! Customers!

Definitely had to put on the day continued on and we still had lots of knick knacks, the prices continued to fall to hopefully encourage more buyers, but some of this stuff were really quite hard to sell. We shifted our price signs to the left (see pic above), making room for new low prices, and had a free box in which we were constantly adding more items.

It's hard work sitting around watching your stuff bake in the sun.

So at the end of the day, still having lots of stuff, we decided to continue our sale for another day, except our new tagline was "Everything for $1". We did pretty well for the first day, making around $270 (?)

Our new posters for Sunday

Sunday, May 27th 2007

We woke up late, having too good a time at the yard-themed dinner the night before.

At around 9:40am, even before we had everything set up, a woman and a man came in, looked around, and bought 21 items. That's $21 even before we officially opened! Not bad. The day continued on quite like the day before, but we did have some interesting customers - one woman kept picking up items and setting them aside and then debating about whether to buy each of them, then putting them back. She actually got into a small grabbing fight with a boy who was maybe 12 years old over a gyroscope she had put back. The boy ended up buying it.

We ended up making over $400 in those two days - not too bad considering that most of the stuff were knick knacks. Aside from clothes, shoes and some other items, we ended up leaving some items out for people to take for free at the end of the day. The clothes and shoes were donated at Rosie's Place and Boomerangs. We actually had visitors again on Monday - there were these 2 Brazilian women who came by both days and bought items both times, but they were quite the hagglers. They came back for an item they were interested in on Sunday, but it was gone by Monday.

It was quite an interesting and learning experience.

The one approach we recommend when having a yard sale is that you must be okay with selling your items at a very low price, knowing that there will be buyers who will want to haggle the price down even further. In the end, the main goal is to get rid of everything. You're essentially having the sale, because you don't want the items any more. You can always take photos of the items to have some record of them. That certainly takes up a lot less room than actually having the item itself, especially when you have as much as we had.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Shiala & Joey hit Boston

Weekend of May 18th 2007:

Squeezing in a visit before we depart from Boston, Shiala and Joey visit for the weekend, hitting some favorites, touristy and new spots along the way:

Sunset Grill
Faneuil Hall
Ned Devine's
Newbury Street
Coolidge Corner
Punjab Palace
Harvard Square

Can't believe I forgot my camera (!)

Drinks, rather shots, at Wonderbar - my second time there, Brian's first

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Fuzzy G Marks the Spot

Saturday, May 12th 2007

It's always a fun time at 29 Greene.

Would be a lot more photos, but they are just a bit too...

Friday, May 11, 2007

Apt Hunting in MD & the Mazur Group in Baltimore

Monday, May 7th 2007:

We took an early train from South Station to Washington, DC's Union Station on our quest to find a new apartment in our soon-to-be new metro area. Feeling pretty crappy, I try to work on some projects with no success as I slept most of the way down. Brian on the other hand rallies and works on making corrections on his thesis. The train ride was actually pretty nice, except for the overhead compartments that were always noisy upon closing, so my rest wasn't quite restful.

All of the apartments we made appointments for were taken off craigslist, so we avoided any kind of broker's fee. But little did we know, the whole apartment search is not like Boston, where you have to drop a ton of money to hold the apartment.

Our first appointment was at 4pm in Bethesda, the one area we decided to look at. From our previous trip, we really liked the neighborhood, so we focused our search here.

The super deep Bethesda metro stop:

We picked up our zipcar from the Bethesda Court Hotel and drove to our hotel, the Clarion, to unload and relax a bit before heading out.

We ended up looking at around 6-7 apartments, all not quite what we were looking for and some just down right ridiculous. The one apartment that had the most promise wasn't actually available (!) and although I fell in love with it right away, it was a bit far from the downtown area. The next closest contender was right in the downtown area, but super expensive having 2 bedrooms and a nook for dining. Also, they were enforcing a policy to cover most of the wooden floors with rugs due to the loud noise created from walking on them with shoes. Hmm...

On the flip side, the worst apartment we saw had wall-to-wall carpeting. Now this isn't so bad if you're into that kind of thing, but when we say wall-to-wall, we mean carpet that went into the bathroom and covered the entire floor - gross!!! I mean come on people, what if the toilet floods...

The next worst was one that didn't have any kitchen cabinets of any kind, a kitchen that felt like it could be in the basement, especially having the washer and dryer under the counter next to the fridge and no windows.

Our hunt was not going too well.

We ate dinner at the Cheesecake Factory in Friendship Heights before our second to last appointment, the only one outside of Bethesda but just in the next town over. It was a bit ironic since Bethesda is a mecca of restaurants, but this was most convenient.

Driving around we jotted some names of nice looking buildings that could have decent apartments, and before getting some shut eye, we looked them as well as some others online.

Tuesday, May 8th 2007:

So much for the alarm snoozing and getting a good breakfast before our second day of searching. I did hit the alarm, but not being 100%, I probably turned it off. Next thing we know our first appointment was in less than 20 minutes, so we didn't even get a chance to shower. Good start.

We spent our time in between appointments making new ones at the fancier places, which came with heftier rents. The problem with these places was that they all had wall-to-wall carpeting which we didn't want, so even though the location was great and the fixtures were modern, we couldn't see ourselves living there.

After seeing probably six to seven apartments, we finally struck gold on our eighth. It felt so refreshing seeing the place that it felt like there was a heavenly "aaaah" that occured when Marla (the building manager) opened the door. It had everything we wanted, plus a pool, fitness center and balcony: the wooden floors, a washer and dryer in the unit, an open floor plan with enough square footage for both an office area and living room area, a reasonably sized bedroom, and great location, not to mention all the new fixtures and appliances. Having seen all the crap apartments before it, we knew this was the one. BUT we did have two final appointments. We did leave the building with a newfound skip in our step, but we didn't want to lose the apartment in the interim, so we called back to make sure it would still be available before we even saw the next place.

Strangely enough, one of the last two apartments was eerily similar to the one we liked, and cheaper, but the natural light didn't pour into the apartment as well as the other one. The view wasn't that great either, but I did like the french doors and walk-in closet.

So after seeing a total of about 15-16 apartments, we could finally relax, knowing that we found a place we could be happy in. What totally sucked was that we both weren't feeling all that great, so we didn't really explore the area again all that much afterwards and just headed back to the hotel. We ate dinner at the Chatters Sports Bar & Grill which was attached to the hotel and watched some Everyone Loves Raymond on the big projection screen.

Wednesday, May 9th 2007

After buying a tape measure at a nearby hardware store, we gave our application fee ($70 - the total amount to hold the apartment! as opposed to Boston's first, last, security, broker's) and measured the rooms. It's going to be interesting combining 3 of our current rooms into one large common area (kitchen, living room, office), but that just means we need to get rid of a lot of our clutter which is a good thing.

Here are some photos of our apt, which was newly renovated:

click on map for a closer look

We're in walking distance to what they claim is about 140 restaurants, so we decided to have lunch at one of them - Austin Grill. Expecting American fare, I was a bit surprised to see that the menu consisted of Mexican fare, but it was delicious.

Heading back to DC to catch a train to Baltimore to meet up with the Mazur group attending the CLEO/QELS conference.


We get to our luxurious hotel, The Inn at Hendersons Wharf, located right near the water, and I take this time to get some rest and hopefully feel better before meeting up with the group.

The Mazur group reunion took place at The Red Star Bar & Grill, where we met up with the extended clan:

For dinner, both Brian and Mazur chose the Southern Maryland Crab Cakes: twin 3.5 oz cakes broiled with a light corn and fennel salad and grilled summer vegetables, while Rafa and I chose the Tuna Nicoise: grilled tuna steak over mixed greens with roasted vegetables, potatoes, Kalamata olives and hard boiled eggs, drizzled with a red wine Dijon vinaigrette - my stomach's growling just writing about it...

yummy almond caramel ice cream dessert...

After dinner, we headed over to The Admiral's Cup which had a $1 Miller Lite can special. Our table was littered with cans, and as the number dwindled to just the four of us, we looked like a bunch of alcoholics with all those cans in front of us.

We decided to venture over to where music was playing just down the street, which was an open deck bar on the third floor of a building called Woody's Rum Bar and Island Grill. We made our way to some empty tables at the far side of the deck, when we were pleasantly surprised with two familiar faces: Jon Birge & Jason Sickler, both who were attending the conference as well, sitting with other lab folk from MIT. Hello, hello.

$2 Coronas...summer is near.

With everyone starving, we headed to the Brick Oven Pizza just down the block for some peetzah - tastes so good late at night...really hits the spot. The last ferry back to the inner harbor was long gone, so the boys cabbed it back, while Brian and I walked the short distance back to the hotel. Called the front desk for a late check-out for the next morning.

And that pretty much sums up the past couple days.