Lunch AND a Movie at the Same Time! | Day 5 of Vacation

What a way to save time! We saw Red Riding Hood at the Movie Tavern while eating lunch (their food isn’t horrible). We really liked the movie! Despite comments by die hard Twilight fans, it’s not at all a rip-off of that series. Just know that every time you think you know who the wolf is, you’re probably wrong. Saying that is probably saying too much. I’m sorry, but did you think predictability would be a good thing in a movie? :)

After the movie, we did a little shopping at Kohl’s. Why do they not set up all stores the same? I felt lost and turned around in this store! Despite the minor discombobulation, all three of us found a few things each. My goal of finding some season cross-over items with birthday money was accomplished. I found a couple of cute sweaters for layering that didn’t look too old or too young for me. YAY! We’ve been having better luck finding age-appropriate clothes in Miranda’s size lately, and Ali found a couple tops that I’ve already made clear I may borrow. She’s already been raiding my closet, so why not?!

Feeling satisfied with our wardrobe finds, we headed to Golden Spoon for some froyo. This made me cold on the outside and happy on the inside!

Enough for the day – home again. After a quick check of Facebook and a little internet surfing, we watched Tangled. I always wonder about the correct way to say this. Do you watch something on On Demand or just watch something On Demand. On On? Is that like saying “do do” – “I do do that”? Me thinks too much!

Tangled was followed by nine rounds of Scattergories then ANTM real-time before Idol on DVR. I won’t even waste time expressing my thoughts on Idol this week, except that I love, love, LOVE that the freshly groomed Casey pulled back and showed a more tender side this time.

Today: LoDo in the wind!

I leave you with the trailer for Red Riding Hood:

Thrift Store Bust – Prom Dress Win! | Day 3 of Vacation

We left the house an hour later than I had planned, but that’s fine. Schedules are more flexible when you’re on vacation! No good costume jewelry finds at the thrift store. Some smelly people in the store expedited our exit, though. One was either extremely gassy or needed a Depends change, and another quite possibly hadn’t showered or bathed in quite some time. This is not meant in judgment by any means, mind you. Just using my imagination to describe the smells we encountered. I tried looking for some interesting props for displaying jewelry for photographing it, but the one piece I had in my hand I decided wasn’t worth waiting in the long lines to buy. It happens to be 25% off everything customer appreciation day (every Monday). I set it on the nearest shelf, and we left. Besides, I don’t need more crap in the house.

Next stop, lunch! Taco Bell/Pizza Hut.

Then onward to surprise Greg at work and take a mini tour of Matheson. {Click on photos to see larger images.}

I didn’t know they made automatic transmission big rigs!

From there, we went to Towne Centre (most still call it Aurora Mall). First stop was Macy’s. After some fun pics wearing hats, we looked at their puny selection of dresses. I loved one of them, but I think Ali was set on the one she had tried on at Penney’s a couple weeks ago. Then we had to have an Auntie Anne’s pretzel! Towne Center isn’t super close to us, and this is the closest place I know of that has Auntie Anne’s. It puts Wetzel’s to shame! After breezing through another boutique that had gowns and finding nothing interesting, we ended up at Penney’s. One orange dress in the wrong size. She tried on four others, but there was no light in her eyes over any of them. Time to go…

Southlands, here we come… One orange Grecian style dress left in her size! Someone had apparently tried to squeeze into a small when they clearly should have been trying on a larger size because the sides need to be mended, but that’s an easy fix. Then, of course, natured called again. What do you supposed was next to the restrooms in Penney’s? Kitchen gadgets! Having heard and seen myself how much of a diehard Sunbeam has been over the years, I decided to replace Mr. KitchenAid with Ms. Sunbeam mixer. She was on sale at a much better price, I might add!

After a little chocolate fix, we left Southlands to return home and slip back into our comfy frumpies – home for the night. Now I’m off to prepare fish for dinner and watch Tangled with the girlies. Cute movie!

Tomorrow: Taxes. :(

Today’s Ambitious Goals Twarted by Possible Virus

As soon as I sat up in bed this morning, I felt a little dizzy. I thought maybe it was because I only slept for five hours last night. So I decided to curl back up for a little longer, and I felt like my whole bed was spinning. Not fun! It finally let up after lunch, and I was able to get two errands scratched off my list: Home Depot and King Soopers. However, it still looks like Christmas in my house because joint aches and ringing ears hit by late afternoon. Are you kidding me?

We are hosting this month’s Poker Night on Friday exactly one half hour after I clock out from work. I now have three days to get Christmas put away and all parts of the house viewable by visitors straightened up and cleaned. No. Actually, I have about six hours to accomplish this by the time you take work, sleep, and other commitments out of the equation. But it’s crammed into my schedule with no wiggle room. If this does turn out to be a virus that gets me down, I could hand out blinders as guests arrive.

In the end, it’ll be fine! Good friends, good snacks, good frosty beverages … GOOD TIMES!

Birthday Shopping Trip the Perfect Solution

When it comes to the perfect fit and comfort, a shopping trip is the way to go!

I tried, I really did, to pick out clothes to give my daughter for her 17th birthday. I noticed an outfit that caught her attention in a Penney’s ad and went to the store to get it, but something held me back. I’m glad I waited because she ended up passing that very outfit over in favor of something completely different.

While Ali was shopping and trying things on, I took Miranda to the other side of the store to find some jeans and to show her a light sweater that I thought she’d like. The sweater turned out to be a bust, but we did find jeans! This is huge! You have to understand how incredibly particular this girl is. Both of them are sooooo my daughters, it’s not even funny. If it pinches, binds, or is scratchy in any way, shape, or form, you can forget about it! This is another reason I’m so grateful for my work-from-home job and the oh-so-comfortable work attire that goes along with it.

I don’t know why I’ve always had it in my head that the perfect gift was the one carefully thought out and purchased for a person in hopes for a reaction of pure pleasure and excitement. When the movement towards giving gift certificates and gift cards first gained popularity, I had a hard time following because it seemed so impersonal. In these days of instant gratification, though, finding that perfect gift for someone is harder to do since they probably already have it. So I’ve changed my view on gift cards and cash as gifts. I recently received a Starbucks gift card, and I was very excited about that one!

So Ali ended up using birthday money on a pair of jeans, several tops, and some ankle boots. Bonus: We won’t have to return anything because it doesn’t fit! Birthday shopping trips rock!

Christmas Extravagance Not a New Issue

…but it is a hard habit to break.

It’s so hard to avoid that look in little Johnny’s eyes. You know the one. He’s playing on the family room floor while watching cartoons on a Saturday morning when a commercial comes on for the coolest new gaming system … and then you see it. His full attention is now focused on that commercial, he sits up straighter, eyes darting left and right as he follows the action on the screen. Then the commercial’s over, and little Johnny jumps up and runs into the kitchen to beg, “Pleeeeease, can I have that???” And so it begins. Under the tree that year is that cool new gaming system along with a couple of games and maybe some extra controllers (because of course, they’re sold separately). They’ve got you now! In three years, the manufacturer of that gaming system is going to improve upon it with a brand new one. Then, not-so-little-anymore Johnny will come to you again to beg, “Moooooom, I gotta have it!”

It seems to makes sense to give something like this as a Christmas gift rather than buying it “just because” at any other time of year because it’s a time to bring joy to others through gift giving. There are those fortunate enough to afford to give expensive gifts without relying on credit cards to do so. There are also those who really can’t afford it but do rely on credit cards to buy them anyway and then suffer from Christmas debt hangovers (how to avoid this).

Christmas extravagance extending beyond your immediate family is not a new thing. It seems new because every year someone somewhere is having a conversation about what Christmas has become. I found this New York Times letter to the editor from 1910. I didn’t see the date on the article until I got to the bottom. It could have been written this year!

One solution offered in both of the preceding links is to reduce your gift exchange list. We did this years ago out of necessity. Another tip I started following is to budget how much to spend on each person. This is especially helpful when you have more than one child. It can be hard to keep things “fair”. Lucky for us, I started putting these things in place already. It might soften the blow compliments of our recent move to a lower income tax bracket.

Happy shopping everyone!

Bored at a Mall

You might think that sounds absurd, and once upon a time it wasn’t the case, but I think malls are boring. Dining at the food court and walking around in air conditioning on a hot day are the only advantages to me. Most stores in malls are full of over-priced merchandise that I can’t bring myself to hand over the money for anymore. Does that make me an old penny-wise geezer? Maybe! I’ve been down this road in days gone by, which is why I can’t do it anymore. If I don’t have enough money in the bank to cover it using my debit card, then I don’t buy it! These days, there just isn’t enough to spend frivolously like that because it’s earmarked for other things (hard to explain to a 12-year-old by the way).

So I’ve found other ways to entertain myself on rarely occurring mall excursions. A stop at the pet store is always on the list because those puppies are so darn cute. (P.S. Don’t buy from them.) Then there’s the oh-so-fun, and often funny, people-watching. I won’t go into details with my opinions, but some of the things I see (and hear) just crack me up and sometimes leave me shaking my head in disbelief.

I feel swallowed up and out of place in malls anymore. I love Marshalls, and Ross! I’ve never found anything at TJ Maxx, but I have found a few great deals at Nordstram Rack. The thrill of finding something that you won’t see at least ten other people in town wearing, because half the town shops at Walmart and Target, is a bit of a thrill to me. I’m not gonna lie! Top it off with the price tag reflecting 75%-85% lower than original retail price, and I’m one happy camper! A $65 pair of jeans that fit perfectly for just $14? BLISS!

Some people suggested mani-pedi, massage, or facial to pamper myself and relax during my brief time off work. I’ve had one manicure in a nail salon, and the polish didn’t last any longer than when I do my own nails. It wasn’t that special to me. I have a thing about feet, and I don’t want anyone touching mine, so pedicures are out of the question. I’ve had one massage. While it was alright, I don’t think it was worth the amount of money it costs.

What relaxes me, drives the rest of my family nuts. I love to just go places and take a stroll to see the sights. I don’t have to have a purpose or a mission to have a good time. Just being out and seeing things I don’t normally get to see is fabulous! Museums? Bring ‘em on! A photo walk downtown or in a park? Amazing! Photo walks are hard to enjoy with others who aren’t also there for photos. They just don’t get it, and I can see where that would be boring to them. So that’s something best left to do on my own – like once the kids are back in school and I can use my half-day Fridays to do just that!

So basically what I find fun and interesting, the rest of my family finds boring. If I make them go with me anyway, I don’t have a good time because they complain or just clearly don’t have a good time (based on bored faces or the fact that they are rushing through wherever we happen to end up). I think my family needs to be taught to just slow down and take in their surroundings and just RELAX!

On that note, I’m off to see Eat, Pray, Love (if that’s the right order)!

“Shopping” a Popular Tag This Weekend

The Holiday Shopping Season Has Begun!

You all know my feelings about shopping in the first place, and this Black Friday was no exception.  I did get a start on my shopping, but I did it from my couch using the internet!

Amazon.com may seem to be the most convenient “one-stop” shopping solution, but be careful.  They are not always the cheapest on everything.  They did beat Toys R Us and Best Buy on a particular electronic device, but they did not beat Sears on another big-ticket item on my list.

My husband and I did venture out later in the evening to look for our house gift for this year.  Most of the brave souls who gave up sleep in favor of “door busters” had most likely collapsed at home by then!  Believe it or not, we did manage to find a nice home theater surround sound system with Blu-ray that was in Best Buy’s Black Friday ad.

I have always struggled with coming up with ideas for gifts for people that aren’t too expensive but that they will actually like, enjoy, or otherwise appreciate.  For this reason alone, I tend to “bah hum-bug” a lot.  I would be so happy to receive a box full of sugar-free Wint-O-Green Lifesavers, fuzzy slipper socks, and gift cards for Amazon.com MP3 downloads.  My favorite thing about Christmas has become spending a lazy day at home with the family playing games.  It’s not about the presents for me.

I guess since we don’t go overboard on gifts and only buy for immediate family, the mega-sales on Black Friday just don’t make much difference to me.

Shopping

woman-shoppingHave I ever mentioned how much I loathe shopping? If I could spend as much as I wanted, I might like it a little, but that’s just part of the issue. I don’t mind shopping the discount stores to get around the prices. I couldn’t even tell you what the popular labels are these days, and frankly couldn’t care less! However, I do care about style and still won’t go out looking like Steve Erkel’s long lost cousin. Luckily, dressing with some sense of fashion doesn’t have to come at a high cost if you know where to look. So far, my boys have never revered popular labels as important, and my girls are following the same path as well. I must be doing something right there!

Aside from the absolutely insane prices of clothes these days, almost nothing seems to fit right. Of course, it doesn’t help that I’m extremely picky about the way things fit. Having long legs and a short torso doesn’t help either. Jeans either reveal things that should not be revealed at this stage of the game or they come up so high that the waistband can be used as an underwire! And shirts… I now realize that the “grandma arms” have arrived. I tried on a breezy cotton short-sleeved shirt in a small, which fit my body nicely. However, I thought I might have to amputate my arms to get out of the darn thing! I then tried it on in a medium. The arms were perfect, but when I raised my arms, the shirt was so wide, it looked like a maternity shirt. (Despite some misunderstandings or miscommunications somewhere, I am not, nor will I ever again be, pregnant. )

So mall crawls for us are for quirky boutique purchases and the food court only. Ali and I walked into Gap yesterday and walked back out after seeing the price of a pair of jean shorts (not the bootie shorts either). For about one third of a whole pair of jeans, they wanted $49.50! I’m sorry, if you are spending this amount of money on about 1.5 yards of denim and some notions, you are seriously due for a psychiatric evaluation! We went to Old Navy next where the prices were much better, but they only have even sizes. The zero was too tight, and the 2 was too loose. Off to JCPenney, where more disappointment set in. For a store that had such a huge selection of jeans in the winter, their denim selection for spring/summer is pathetic. We did find one pair of denim shorts in a size 1 that fit, though. Final price? Just $14.50! Next stop: Target, Kohls, & Marshall’s (in that order).

The final part of shopping that I don’t care for is the amount of time it takes. Shopping by myself isn’t as bad because I know exactly what I want and how I want it to fit. Miranda would buy everything, but Ali is picky like me. Waiting on her decisions sometimes is exhausting, but I do understand her frustrations.

Hopefully today will bring better results. There may be a “Shopping – Part II” to follow.

Busy Saturday Schedule

I can check off the first thing on my list for today: work 2 hours (a total of 50 hours this week).

Next on the agenda: clean out and reorganize my kitchen pantry. That will probably take me the better part of an hour, if not more! Oh! I also have to pay bills.

Then I have to get ready and shop for a wedding shower gift. I have no idea what to get. The theme is “Room Service” but no color schemes were given for any of the rooms. Hmmm! I chose living room to be different (and difficult) because people usually give kitchen or bath items. I’m seriously leaning towards a nice larger frame with a promise of a free 11×14 photo from the wedding shots. This is one of the weddings I’m scheduled to shoot! I also have to write down three of my favorite recipes on index cards they provided in the invitation.

If I find something quick enough, I may have time for some personal shopping as well. The shower isn’t until 7pm, but I’d also like to tackle one more item on my house “to do” list before I go. If I had to choose between a little “me” time and jumping right into more projects on the list after working a 50-hour week, I’m going for the “me” time! That still sounds so selfish to me, but it does make me more pleasant to be around once I’ve relaxed and recharged in my own ways.

Many people don’t understand how I can go shopping and even out to eat by myself. Why not? Why do others have to have someone with them all the time? I actually enjoy going out alone, and I always have! I get more done that way because I only hit the stores or sections of stores that I want or need. I find what I want, and I get out. Done!

I think tomorrow will be my lazy day.