TV Shopping Saga

We bought a TV last weekend. First I heard a lot about plasma screens, HD, 3D, LED and LG. I never did figure out the difference between the latter two – but apparently plasma is “the best picture for the price.” We brought along our good friend (also named Chris) to give his expert opinion.

Apparently when buying a TV it is important to inspect the view from all angles:

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Make sure you bring a big car, as even a Dodge Nitro may not fit TV, stand, basalmic vinegar AND friend:

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Some assembly may be required:

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After setting up the TV and stand, it is important to try them out by playing Halo, even if you don’t have a couch yet:

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We had a great time and now we have a great TV. Next step – more furniture?!

The Lawn Mower Saga

Owning your house as previously mentioned has many advantages, disadvantages and added responsibilities. One of the added responsibilities is Lawn Care. At our townhouse, mowing and shoveling were all included as part of the rent, but now we are it.

Before we went on vacation we had mowed the lawn a couple times with our friend’s reel mower and decided it was not for us. Our lawn is just a little too big, the mower swath just a little too small, and I simply don’t have the muscles (I imagine I may be doing some mowing while Chris is surviving residency).

So we decided to buy a mower. But we didn’t want a gas can. And we didn’t want a cord. And that left us with pretty much one option; a  self-propelled battery-powered electric lawn mower.

Yes, it exists.In fact, it arrived (special order) the night after we returned from Hawaii. We picked it up at the store, brought it home, and cut open the package expectantly… only to find that it had been damaged. Sad day. We took it back and decided to hire a lawn service because after our trip to Hawaii, the grass was calf-high and seeding.

I actually got turned down by one lawn service and ignored by another. The fellow I eventually found ended up charging me more than expected, although they were very nice. They did get it down to a manageable level…

This led to all kinds of existential questions. “Should we keep the lawn service? Are they overcharging us?” (yes) “Will we be dependent on them forever? Is it cheaper in the long run to mow our own?” (maybe) “Why don’t we have nice readily available manual labor at a good price?”

We decided to go ahead and spring for the good mower, and it got in last week (thanks Amazon) and works like a charm. According to Chris… I still haven’t had to mow yet. But my day is coming!

This evening, I saw a little girl playing with a pretend lawn mower while her dad mowed the real lawn. Hers was pink and blew bubbles. I need that lawn mower. Come on, girly pink mower. I bet there’s a market for it!

Ariel’s Guide to Buying A House

Back in March, when we realized we were probably staying in Rochester, we started looking for a house. For some, houses are a way to obtain status and of course financial equity. For us, it was mostly a means to assure we could get a dog and a backyard that we could let it outside into. Of course the whole equity thing is nice too.

So here are my tips for house buying (especially for residents and nurses):

1) Identify why you want a house. It’s a big decision! Yes, the mortgage may be cheaper than your rent, but when you factor in maintenance, lawn duties, and things breaking… It’s an investment of time and money. Make sure you want and need a house. Renting is a perfectly acceptable choice.

2) Talk to a bank. Get preapproved. Find a loan officer you like because you’ll probably have to talk to them. Know how much you can afford before you fall in love with a house far, far beyond your price range.

Note – we got preapproved on my income. It’s trickier to get a loan with a resident’s income. You’ll have to shop lenders, and you may have to rent first and get some “paycheck proof” built up.

3) Some people wander through the woods and stumble into the yard of their dream house, finding a “for sale by owner” sign staked into the front yard (true story!)

My advice for everyone else… get a great realtor. Our realtor, Jennifer Mitchell, was awesome. She made herself available for last-minute house hunting trips, answered all our random ignorant questions, and responded quickly to texts, emails and phone calls. She also had a great sense of humor and made looking at dozens of houses as fun as possible. She also helped us clarify our “wish list” which leads me to # 4…

4) Make a couple lists, “wants” and “needs” and use that to narrow down what you’re looking for – and update the lists as you oook. At the beginning we looked at a lot of different houses all over Rochester and we soon figured out that was inefficient. We honed in on the type of house we ended up with… Newer ranch style on the west side of town with a fenced back yard and large kitchen, reasonably close to the hospital, and requiring relatively little updating.

(FYI this blog will never turn into an account of our home remodeling projects because we’re not really that kind of couple. Fixtures? Maybe. Redo a bathroom? Doubtful!)

5) Be patient and give yourself lots of time. We had just despaired offending anything and talked to our landlord about extending our lease when – ding! – we found 2 houses we liked in the same day. They were both newish ranches on the west side of town. We soon decided we wanted the fenced back yard more than the walk out basement and bought ourselves a house.

I have to say I really like having a house. We have so much room and we can’t hear our neighbors at all. I can park my car in the garage at last (poor thing has never lived in a garage). We’re getting ready to have a dog.

Oh, I’m sure it won’t be a complete cake walk. But for us, this house was a Godsend.