Random Reader Rant and/or Revel

Photo by PoPville flickr user aquacat58

You can talk about whatever is on your mind – quality of life issues, a beautiful tree you spotted, scuttlebutt, or any random questions/thoughts you may have. But please no personal attacks and no need to correct people’s grammar. This is a place to vent and/or celebrate things about daily life in DC.

126 Comment

  • Rant: I am so hungover from my husbands holiday party last night. I’m not as young as I used to be.

  • epric002

    rave: woke up yesterday feeling like a cold was coming on. popped a bunch of zinc and echinacea and am feeling MUCH better πŸ™‚ i don’t care if it’s physical or psychological, btw.

  • justinbc

    Rave: Offer on our 3rd investment property was accepted yesterday! We wound up paying their asking price, which I still found pretty reasonable, but also got 3% back at closing which fully covered all of those extra costs. So if anyone is looking for housing right next to Galluadet / Union Market we’ll soon be running a 4 unit over there πŸ™‚
    Rant: The roofing contractor we’re using to redo our own roof charged $2,600 over what I allotted him to our credit card for the deposit, causing it to go over balance and incur a ton of fees because we had no idea. They’ve refunded it and I was able to get BofA to refund the fees, but it’s still incredibly annoying. And that’s before any actual work has begun, which of course makes me nervous about what else they’ll screw up.

    • I would never rent from you.

      • justinbc

        Your loss. We take exceptional care of our tenants and properties.

        • Justinbc- I’d really be interested in talking to you about the process you went through in getting your other properties..
          What road blocks if any with financing, does your existing properties have to have X amount of equity etc, can you withdraw said equity and use for down payments……

          • justinbc

            Sure, I’m always happy to answer any questions honestly. We look at each property pretty carefully in terms of rent capacity versus cash outlay. I don’t do all cash buys, and don’t try to compete with those who do, we’re in a very different market. I’ve got a local lender (New America Financial Corp) here who I work with that I like very much. They fall under Fannie regulations which are much less stringent than Freddie, so it makes the closing process much smoother. The guys are also just extremely nice to work with in general. You can certainly use HELOCs for down payments as well, but I prefer to reserve those for doing renovations on the properties. Also highly suggest forming an LLC if it’s an area you’re considering getting into, to protect your own assets should anyone try to sue you.

          • Ok Thanks. I currently own a rowhome with basement rental and currently renting out the home and living in the apartment while I find another property. Just was curious if I took out a HELOC how does that affect the lending process and do I apply for the HELOC months before or once I apply for lending for new property. I guess I need to make a trip to the bank and speak with a lender.

          • Justin

            We are looking to do similar. Buy and hold a 4-unit somewhere in Trinidad. Have not taken any steps past thinking about it though. Seems like long-term will be a good investment, with a chance to get yield in the mean-time. Did you buy one of the $250-$300k ones that (presumably) need a lot of work, or did you find one of the more turn-key $500k ones that should be ready to be rented?

          • justinbc

            Oh, I see. If that’s something you’re considering then I would advise taking out the HELOC well in advance. If you’re not charging to it then it won’t negatively affect you (maybe 10 points or so but that’s really insignificant). The HELOC process itself is only about 2-3 weeks depending on your lender. We used Nationwide for the one HELOC we have and I’m a big fan of how smooth it was, plus the excellent rate. When applying for your next loan you will have to state how much of your down payment is borrowed, and that may affect the interest rate you’re given, but as long as it’s a good investment it’s probably still worth it.

          • justinbc

            @Kyle, looked at both options and settled somewhere in the middle. I’m pretty handy myself, so I definitely did not want to pay for someone’s over the top (actually cheap) renovations. We wound up finding a property that had been modestly renovated (re: removed all the old, decrepit stuff and simply fixed things) and priced accordingly. We were looking at a place over in Kingman Park that was a good bit larger with a really solid rental stream, but the sellers work commercial real estate (re: pricks) and were unwilling to budge at all on the absurd price.

          • That seems reasonable. We are also fairly handy, and the fact these things are still available at these prices makes it seem like a no-brainer. Seems like it is relatively easy to get $12,000/year per $100,000 in purchase price. If you can keep them rented, and get reasonable quality tenants, the numbers seem quite favorable.

            What did you do as far as realtor? Did someone in your group get their license?

          • See I wasn’t sure that you can use borrowed money for downpayments and thats why underwriteres usually wanted to see the money in your accounts for 2months or that the money came from family as a gift. I’m looking for purchase another 2-unit and or convert a single home into 2-unit and make that my primary and eventually do it again and again etc…

          • justinbc

            @kyle, we considered a couple different areas, Anacostia near the new DHS facility being the other major one. There are still some reasonable buys to be found down there, but most of them are already taking into account the planned growth and development. I liked the built-in rental market that Trinidad offered being right next to a campus with students who need affordable housing. We will likely leave it as is with a few cosmetic upgrades for the next 3 or 4 years, until the stuff at Union Market is fully fleshed out, then do a total overhaul to increase returns. We found a pretty good realtor who I’ve enjoyed working with. As a buyer there’s really no incentive to not using one, unless you think you can get some of the seller’s commission back as a refund (unlikely) on the purchase price. If you haven’t actually been inside any of those common 4 units in Trinidad I would just caution that most of the ones listed as 2BR per unit are really just 1BR + den (aka old school sleeping porch).
            @dcreal, it will definitely depend lender by lender, but I’m a big fan of using small, local companies or credit unions. They’re much more willing to work with any circumstance and usually get the work done quicker too.

          • We just need to get going. Have the cash to do it, just need to get started and pull the trigger. We have been talking about it for a year.

            Would love to discuss further. Perhaps older brother and I can buy you a coffee/beer and pick your brain some evening?

            We are hoping to turn this into a much bigger venture at some point, currently talking (probably 5 years out) about becoming a development company and working with those bigger 20 unit buildings you see for several million around the city.

          • justinbc

            Sure thing. Tweet me @justinbc and we can set something up post-holidays! Always happy to see more local investors competing with the mega-conglomerates. I think after one more property for us we’ll be set to retire very early, comfortably. The DC market is better than stocks.

          • Hell I want in on this….But I dont have twitter….but as you mentioned after holidays be cool to chat. trinidad area here.

          • justinbc

            Yeah maybe I’ll just post a get together at Queen Vic or something when I get back from the West coast and anyone in the area who wants to sit around and talk real estate can join πŸ™‚

          • I am in Petworth, but can easily come wherever. I would definitely be down for this. Queen Vic sounds good.

    • Congratulations. I hope to own something, anything some day. Just seems so out of reach with housing prices what they are here. πŸ™

      • Everyone I know in DC starts with some family money. I haven’t met a single person who scrounged up $30K+ on their own for their downpayment.

        • My girlfriend and I each saved up $45k by living in the suburbs for three years. The quality of life was pretty dismal, but that’s one way to do it.
          Unfortunately, closing costs in DC are so insane that our $90k only covered about half of it. The rest we borrowed from her family.

          • Did it really save you that much to live in the ‘burbs? I ask because car ownership costs, gas, repairs, and insurance would wipe out the cost differential fairly quickly vs. getting a cheap apartment in a more marginal part of DC that’s near a Metro stop.

          • We lived in Annandale which is cheaper because it’s mostly low-income minorities that live there. We were paying $1250 for a rowhouse, and sometimes we rented out rooms in the basement, but if you were more aggressive about saving money you could get an apartment and pay less. It’s also not so far from the city that you’re driving hundreds of miles a week, although you do spend a lot of time burning up gas while idling in traffic. My car is paid off, and is not old enough to need repairs, and parking at work and at home was free. We carpooled most of the time although there were unreliable buses near our house that we could take if we had to.

            But yeah, I definitely see your point. I save almost as much now, with a huge mortgage, as I did back then, simply because it’s easier to not spend money on transportation and other nonsense when you live in the middle of the city. You could probably pay even less in rent in certain parts of DC; I tried to do that before moving in with my girlfriend, but the crime became too much for me. Not the driving on 395 every day isn’t dangerous. πŸ˜‰

        • It is hard to do as a single person. At the same time, if you have good credit scores, there are many loan programs that are available where you can reduce your downpayment, especially if you are an owner occupant. I suggest speaking with different lenders and finding out what loan programs they offer. It also helps to try to find an inexpensive property

          • Agree on the finding an inexpensive property. That is really tough to do now though. Wife and I bought an unrenovated Petworth Rowhome for $250k in 2010. That same unrenovated is now in the 300s, and will likely sell for all cash to an investor. Its tough out there!

          • justinbc

            Definitely harder to do as a single person. BB&T used to offer a 0% down loan on properties under 400K in this region. I suggest checking them out, as well as the Homepath site (those properties will likely require some work though).

        • PS – I say this as someone whose friends are all in late 20s/early 30s with student loans, jobs around the $85-100K level, and trying to get into starter homes/apartments. If you’re older and owned previous places during the last upturn, you’ve probably bagged a lot of equity and have the cash.

          • Whoa. To most people in this country, those are seriously upper class salaries that can never be obtained. How one can make that much and still have student loans is confounding. I realize you often have to pay for expensive education to get those jobs, but still, those salaries are very, very high, regardless of price of living.

          • justinbc

            “How one can make that much and still have student loans is confounding.”
            Not really. Student loan interest rates (if they’re from the government, not privatized) are often considerably lower than other debt such as credit cards, and therefore are often the last to be paid off. Many of the payment options are also scaled, so that you don’t have to pay as much in the first several years. Add to that with a good education you can be making 70K VERY easily in this city (that’s only GS-12), and it’s pretty easy to see how you would climb into the 80-100 range while still having outstanding student loans.

          • justinbc

            (and the above is not to disagree that salary would be very much upper class in the rest of the country, but we’re not in the rest of the country)

          • They’re upper middle-class salaries and class doesn’t vary based on location. In fact where you live is a marker of class.

          • “those salaries are very, very high, regardless of price of living.”

            that’s a ridiculous statement. Earning $85,000 a year in rural Mississippi is very, very different from earning $85,000 in Hong Kong.

        • My family didn’t contribute at all. Home ownership was a huge priority for me so every tax return and extra dollar went to savings until I could do an FHA 203K rehab project. It was one of the best decisions I made…but it was in 2008 so the fees and PMI were a lot less than what FHA charges now!

          • But The focus on savings misses half the point. Even with a healthy down payment, the amount you can borrow is much more limited by monthly amount you can afford (i.e. salary), which you can’t save or borrow to change.

        • Then you haven’t met me.

        • My BF and I each scrounged up 30k for a downpayment. And we’re not lawyers, just regular working folk, but we are in our mid/upper 30s so we had plenty of time to scrounge.

          • justinbc

            I think that is another consideration that many people ignore. In other areas of the country it’s much more possible for people to obtain housing at a younger age, lower 20s even. In DC the housing stock is much smaller, and accordingly more expensive (unless you’re willing to make concessions on location/home quality/etc). People have this idea that they should or will be able to own as soon as they move here, because wherever they moved from is so much cheaper. In most cases, that’s just not a reality without good, early planning in life. I also think there’s a real lack of financial planning education given to people in high school / college, but that’s a whole different subject.

          • Yes, I think the best strategy for most people is to put up with an undesirable living situation for several years. For some that means living outside of the Beltway, for others it’s sharing a bedroom in a group house, and for some it means living in a high-crime area. But even then you can’t expect to save up the money in a year. You have to be willing to commit to it.

          • I forgot to mention one more possible scenario… living with parents! Not an option for most of us, but I know a few lucky people who were able to save a lot of money very quickly this way.

        • I actually don’t know anyone in DC who used family money for their first purchase. I tried three diff programs-NACA-HPAP and then ended up using DC Bond money (that may be discontinued). Got 10k free and clear and lower interest rate. Bought in a neighborhood close to metro but pre transition (Col Heights before Target). Was it dicey at times? Yes. Did a i make a fortune selling it 8 years later. YEP. You gotta hustle in DC if you want to buy a house. There is down payment money to be found you just have to be willing to jump through bureacratic hoops, work all the programs, FHA etc…and yes I saved and saved. I never lived in new construction apts, had roomates through age 34 (including at my first condo I owned). So you need to think long and hard on your choices. Yes I would have like to live alone in something other than 4 th floor walk up. But if I can get a roommate to cover 2/3 of my mortgage, its a sacrifice worth making. My coworker is in the process of buying a house in Ward 8 for $145k. there are plenty of affordable properties in DC. They just may not be where you want them to be…but they exist.

        • Is it just me or is $30K a pretty small amount for a down payment? If you want to put down 20% and also have money set aside for closing costs — which are pretty killer in DC with that DC transfer tax — seems to me you are going to need a lot more than that.

          Also, I agree that family money plays a big role for lots of people I know.

          • Yeah, I don’t know where the $30k came from but you’re definitely going to need more than that. I’m sure there’s some rare exception, like if you can get FHA and you’re buying a fixer-upper studio condo in Anancostia, but most people looking to buy in DC should aim to have at least twice as much saved.

          • justinbc

            FHA loans only require 3.5% down payment. In 2014 the amount you can borrow will decrease to $625,000, but that covers the majority of the housing stock in DC. Closing costs are a different story, but you can often get the seller to credit those back to you.

          • jim_ed

            In our opinion, it was definitely worth it to bite the bullet and put down the bare minimum of 3.5% to get into a house now rather than later. Sure, we’re paying PMI which stinks, but we locked in a very low loan rate on a 30 year fixed, and our neighborhood has seen such incredible price growth that there’s no way we could have afforded to buy in it had we waited to save up 20%.

          • Have you looked at Refi? We were paying PMI, and refinanced after a year and the house had gone up in value enough for PMI to drop off.

            We just made our house look awesome, and listed all the improvements we had done to the property, as well as had a list of local comps (some maybe weren’t that comparable πŸ™‚ and the guy gave us 50K over our purchase price.

          • jim_ed

            We’ve though about refi, but we’ve got out first kid on the way, so I’m very hesitant to sink a good chunk of our savings into the closing costs. Considering the house 2 doors down sold for nearly double what we paid for ours less than a year after we bought (its a flip, ours is gently used, but bigger), I don’t think we’d have trouble proving the equity. But this will be the first year we get a full mortgage deduction, so maybe with a nice tax return I’ll seriously look into it. any good recs for lenders to go through?

          • Refi closing costs shouldn’t be bad at all. We spent $40k on closing costs (not counting downpayment) first time around but got some money back when we refinanced.

          • justinbc

            We use Quicken Loans for our primary residence mortgage, and I would highly recommend them. Their customer service has been top notch, and they regularly review your mortgage to see if there are ways they can save you money. One thing to consider on a Refi, as I’m not sure the value on your home, but if your outstanding balance is above 650K you won’t be eligible to drop your PMI until you get it below that.

          • Jim-

            You can have them roll the closing costs into the refinance. Thats what I did. Plus the bank give me refinance credit.

          • If you use an online mortgage broker (Roundpoint is the best IMO) your total closing costs will likely be under $2,000. You can roll this into the mortgage, or go 1/8 above and the points they credit you should cover all the costs. You will have to pay out of pocket for Appraisal though ($400ish)

          • As a tax guy, let me encourage you to avoid even really considering the Mortgage Interest Deduction in this calculation.

            First, it gets smaller every year.
            Second, it could be gone if congress ever does do comprehensive tax reform (lol!)
            Third, best case scenario, you are saving 25% of your interest costs. The other 75% is just gone.

          • jim_ed

            Thanks for the free financial advice, everyone. I suppose I’ll have to give a refi a harder look. At the end of the day, I’m glad we were aggressive in buying young, as we’re probably close to being priced out of neighborhoods in the city we’d consider raising a kid in.

        • I bought my house on my own…but I also did it though Navy Federal…If you can qualify they offer 0% down loans with no PMI. Its a pretty great deal…I was able to get into my house and used the money I saved on my own to pay for closing.

          • Yeah but you probably got a higher interest rate= which probably equals what the pmi would have been, and now have to pay it for the life of the loan or unless you are able refinance once you have 20% equity in your home.

            If you got 100% financing at anything below 4.5% interst rate then you were very lucky.

          • Are you talking about the VA loan? If so, you have to be a veteran and you have to be an owner-occupant. The VA loan is the only reason we were able to buy in DC.

          • Nope not a VA loan…and my interest rate is locked in at 5%.

          • @dcreal – I looked into doing FHA with PMI…the payment would have been substantially more per month with no guarantee that when I finally did refinance what the interest rates would be. I also wasn’t willing to gamble on PMI being dedcutable on my taxes for too much longer as that break is tied to the tax relief act which is set to expire this coming year. I’d rather pay my 5% interest and be guaranteed a deduction and play it safe than not. It worked for me but might not be best for others.

          • 5% is high these days.

      • justinbc

        If you don’t mind me asking, what steps are you taking to save for it? I find that to be the biggest hurdle for most people (re: spending most of their income on rent, lifestyle activities, etc). Also, how big of a priority is owning vs renting for you?

      • The one good thing that came out of my company drastically underpaying me for my first couple years is that I was able to qualify for HPAP down payment assistance. I also sold my car, moved out of my apartment once I had a contract on my place, and slept in a friend’s spare bedroom for two months until I closed. I also picked up extra shifts at my second job to help with closing costs.I still had to do FHA financing, but I refinanced with a conventional loan last year at a lower rate and was able to get rid of my PMI payments.

        HPAP obviously isn’t an option for a lot of people in DC, but for other underpaid non-profit types it can make a huge difference.

  • Rave: Getting a raise in 2014 for the first time. Today is joyful.

  • Rave: Two interviews next week. One is an internal move to another division, one is with a different company. Both would take me in a somewhat new direction. I am excited for new possibilities, but…
    Rant: I’ve been in my job 6 years, change is scary! And I’d be really bummed to let go of my project in Uganda, it’s the only thing I like about my job right now. I’d really miss working with my team there, they are pretty great.

  • Emmaleigh504

    Rant: It seems I”m doing life wrong, can I get a do-over?
    Rant: Forgot my email password
    Rant: It’s cold in my office, so cold there is not enough hot tea and fur to keep me warm.
    Rave: I sent some money to help a rhino.

  • Rant: Excessive Pajama gram adverts on NPR offering pajamas for cats
    Rave: Picturing the mayhem for anyone trying to put pajamas on a cat!

    • I don’t understand the WAMU sponsorships. It seems like it’s either the pajamagram people or the Khans, celebrating something that makes them even more insufferable. I’m starting to suspect the sponsorships are code for something sinister, and I find that makes it more entertaining.
      Rant: I may listen to too much NPR.

    • +1
      I used to think there was nothing more depressing than hearing the pajama gram ads on NPR. Then they added the slogan “for the whole family – including dogs and cats!” and in deed, it got more depressing. is there really a market for this? It gives me the sads just to hear it.

      • I haven’t heard the dog and cat ads, but I always thought the original pajamagram ads were depressing. I hope no guy ever saw one of those commercials and thought it was an appropriate romantic gift.

        • I mean, I won’t say no to the gift of cute or funny pjs. But it’s weird how much they advertise on NPR. Doesn’t that mean it’s paying off for them in some way? Like, there’s enough people listening to Diane Rehm who say “why yes, I would like matching pjs for the whole family? That’d be splendid! And let’s not leave out Fido or Fluffy?”

          Also, I may have had too much coffee today.

      • I actually sent my mom a pajamagram last year for Valentine’s day. She loved it — it was so much better than flowers and a great option since she lives far away.

        • I sent one to my mom when she had some major surgery a couple years ago and she loved it. I think they’re a great idea for someone who’s sick – if you’re in your jammies anyway, why not have cute new ones? But romantic? Not really.

    • RAVE: picturing cats in pajamas. Are they footies?

  • Rave: Last night’s dinner at Rose’s Luxury was easily the best meal I’ve had in DC in a very long time. Most everything we ordered was so delicious we could eat a whole plate of it. (EXCEPT sadly the burnt romaine) Service was friendly and the ambiance was like eating in someone’s cozy and upscale home. Please go!! I’ll be going back myself in 2-3 months when the menu changes.

    • justinbc

      I’ve been so happy to read continual praise for them. I remember going to their pop-up at Hogo and being wow’ed, and I know several staff who work there, so it’s great to see them reap such huge success.

    • I’m trying to convince my girlfriend to try it with me. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like the kind of place that’s good for a picky/non-adventurous eater.

      • justinbc

        I would classify most of their dishes as “adventurous”, especially in the context of someone who is adventure-averse. They’re also just really good though, so if you can get her to take the plunge I would be surprised if she would admit to not liking them.

      • There are some solid items on the menu that you can find at a more, uh, standard restaurant. The pork schnitzel is delicious, as is the fried chicken (the menu says it’s pickle-brined but you really can’t tell as it’s mostly honey and fried goodness). I’ve heard good things about the brisket and cacio e pepe.

      • I think you’re right in that picky eaters should probably look elsewhere.

    • I loved Roses’s too, everything we had was delicious, the calamari, oysters, brussel sprouts, brisket, and the off the menu pasta with white truffles was amazing. I will cross town again to go and recommend it!

  • Rave: holiday parties. Even a grinch like me is getting in the holiday spirit
    Minor Rant: I pinpointed my weatherproofing issue to a gap at the front door that is letting in a ton of cold air. I’m a moron with home repair and no clue how to fix it.

    • Weatherstripping around the door frame should make a difference – it’s easy to install. I imagine there are lots of “how-to’s” on the web.

    • Where is the gap, under the door? You can buy many different types of weatherstripping from home depot.

    • I’ve been in the same boat, living in a new (to me) apartment that has more than one draft issue. Each one I fix makes it slightly better, but they seem to never end. Where is the gap exactly? A simple fix, for home repair morons, could just be foam insulation tape. If it is at the bottom of the door, try an adhesive door sweep. That will block out a draft. If you combine it with a threshold it will be even better.

    • Thanks! I tried the v shape weatherstripping but then the door wouldn’t open or cl

    • Thanks! I tried the v shape weatherstripping but then the door wouldn’t open or close so I had to remove it. It is like a five inch gap between the door and the frame on the section above where the lock goes into its slot. ( I am sure that is not the technical term but I did warn that I’m a moron about this stuff : ) So I need to try to seal that gap without the door sticking shut.

      • gotryit

        So it’s 5″ high, but how wide is the gap? Can you put weather stripping in just that area?

        • It’s small but enough so I can see daylight through it. The foam didn’t really work and the v which sealed it all the way up got the door stuck. It looks like warping or settling somehow in the frame. Can that be somehow built out with a thin piece of wood? (I promise to have more interesting rants and raves next week).

          • gotryit

            You could build out the part of the door jamb that the door closes against, so that you get better overlap. It would narrow your doorway by about 1/2″, and might look a little strange, but sounds like it would work.

    • We had a big gap under our front door. You can buy something called double draft stop for a door. It slides under the door and has blocks on either side. It’s an “as seen on TV” thing but it really, really works. You can get them at Home Depot and they don’t require you to do any instillation. I think they are around 5 – 10 dollars.

    • Any ideas for cold air that seems to be coming in through window panes? My house has these huge windows but it’s too cold to sit near any of them, and I hate that stuff that looks like plastic wrap (my neighbors have it– so ugly!).

      • Try rope caulk where you can feel cold air coming in. Also give the plastic film a try – I used it for years and it made a huge difference. If you tape it to the inside of your windows and use a blow dryer to make it tight it isn’t really noticeable.

  • Rave: This photo. That is all.

  • Rant: Contemplating pulling the Christmas decorations down from the attic with S. gone and the kids out of the house.
    Rave: Finished a long and long-overdue bout of with various doctors, exam of whom patiently explained that no; that spot on your nose is not skin cancer, no that (mumble) is not colon cancer, no, the headaches are not from a brain tumor; and yes, your internal organs are all in fine shape, despite your wicked ways (but you may want to cut back on them). The experts agree — at least I’ve got my health.
    Rave-ish question: Need to shop for a a woman I like quite a bit, but don’t know where exactly one hunts for jewelry and clothing for an elegantly hip/stylish woman, tall-ish and thin-ish, definite New York/East of the park vibe (though arguably too old for a tattoo or a lather mini).

    • justinbc

      I really like the clothes and accessories for women at Current on 14th Street, and they would fit your description pretty well.

    • My husband bought my engagement necklace (I didn’t want a ring) at a vintage jewelry store called Legendary Beast at 15th & U. I don’t think it was particularly expensive, but it is beautiful and different. He looked around for a long time for something and finally found it there, so I have to imagine they have a good selection. I don’t know if that’s the kind of place you’re looking for, but I figured I would throw it out there.

    • I think Anthropologie is your spot. Zara might also be a good option, both are near Metro Center.

    • Proper Topper or Secondi (both in the Dupont area) might be worth trying

    • Go to Willow on Upshur and Georgia. They have great clothes at an affordable price! I shop there all the time and always get compliments on my outfits!!

    • To add a couple of online options, Piperlime (owned by gap) has a lot of cool jewelry that’s quite affordable (Sabine is one of their house brands I like). Ofakind is an online shop that does limited editions from hip designers in both clothing and accessories. Needsupply (also online) has a kind of badass type of style and a good-sized price range.

      GoodWood also has some handmade/vintage jewelry from time to time, but that’s much more expensive.

      I LOVE Current when I’m shopping for myself, but I don’t think their selection lends itself to shopping for someone else – especially if you’re not of the same gender or style. There’s a LOT of stuff there, and it can be hard to pick through some times.

    • I’d also recommend vintage jewelry. Also a pashmina shawl (beautiful and practical) and something from Coup de Foudre.

    • A lather mini could be fun. . . !

    • If she enjoys toys, something from Lelo : )

    • Tiny Jewel Box on Connecticut near M. All sorts of treasures so you’d be sure to find something unique and upper East SIde.

  • gotryit

    Rant: office holiday party. Not working for a few hours… ok, but now they’re singing christmas songs. F that. I’m out.

    • That’s crazy! Who does that at work??

      • gotryit

        It’s a federal government agency too! How is CHRISTmas not a christian holiday? why is this normal?? I can deal with a “holiday potluck”, but the rest is over the top for me.
        PS. Yes, I am a grinch. F you.

        • I’m just trying (and failing) to picture my coworkers singing Christmas carols together. Probably a good thing I can’t conjure up the mental image.

        • Ugh, Fed here as well. I was bitching about my office holiday party yesterday in the Rave & Rants. They do all these ridiculous things to compensate for the fact that there’s no booze, dancing, and music.
          I spent 30 minutes eating food and then headed back to my office before the 2 hour “entertainment program” began in a fluorescent lit conference room. F that, indeed.

          • Yeah, those idiots. Don’t they know it’s impossible to have fun unless you’re wasted?

          • I guess we’re lucky – the beer & wine flows at our holiday party – it’s next week, and that’s why I am going!

          • justinbc

            I used to work for a really large firm that through pretty epic holiday parties. That’s actually one of the things I miss most! The last one I attended with them was at the Air & Space Museum, a sweet venue to have to yourselves.

          • We don’t have booze but we do a white elephant gift exchange where 75% of the gifts are booze. So there’s a good chance you’ll be able to go home and get drunk and not have the awkwardness of being buzzed around coworkers (I don’t know where you guys work but it would be super-weird being dressed up drinking cocktails and dancing with people I work with).

          • @Another Fed:
            Which agency are you in?!? I’m pretty sure that booze is not allowed to be purchased with Congressional dollars. We are actually self-funded but we still don’t buy booze. My smaller team is doing happy hour next week for the holidays, but of course we each pay our own tab.

          • gotryit

            booze is done by donation – not federal dollars

          • Anonymous 3:23:
            You are assuming that anything related to our holiday party is purchased with federal funds. In fact, none of it is – there is an admission fee, on a sliding scale that gets higher for the higher grades, and ends up pretty high for the senior types.

            Don’t worry – the whole party is done on the up and up – we even get the required offical sanction/paperwork in order to have the (privately purchased) alcohol on the premises. (Nevertheless, my agency shall remain unanmed.)

  • My apartment building holiday party was supposed to be last night, but was canceled.
    Mini Rant: Too bad, since I was counting on it for dinner and a couple of drinks.
    Real Rant: It was canceled because the caterers had had a major fire in their facility. I feel sorry for them since they not only lost our party but also, I would guess, all their other bookings around Christmas and New Years – must be awful!

  • Probably too late to ask this,but where is a good place to get glasses that takes the Federal BCBS vision insurance? I just got my eyes checked and didn’t like any of the frames that the place attached to my eye doc’s office had. Any ideas? I’ll need to do it in the next week or so to take advantage of my insurance this year. Thanks!

  • I have found that no one really takes Federal BCBS, though they say they do – I added VSP this year so I get coverage. It was the same with dentists that told me they take Federal BCBS. myeyedr gives you a discount, though. I think it’s 50% off glasses (with exam?).

    Zennioptical.com has super cheap glasses, but they don’t take insurance. However, you can get pairs as cheap as $8 so it’s not really needed. I usually pay about $12-16 a pair from them.

Comments are closed.