Me, 30 Seconds Ago

These days, I have to make good use of my time. For example, If I’m going to leave work over lunch, which often means walking a quarter of a mile to my car, then I’m going to use the time wisely. That’s how, on Monday, I ended up at Petco around noon.

You see, my sister and her family were out of town so my parents were staying at their house, watching their animals. The weather had just undergone a dramatic change, going from 60 degrees on Friday to a high of 7 degrees on Sunday.

My mom was worried about the house staying warm and the pipes freezing so she asked me to swing by and “flush the toilets.”

Yes, you read that right. My dear mum didn’t want me to get their mail or bring in the newspaper or water the plants. She had others taking care of those tasks. No, instead my very important job was to flush the toilet.

FreezingPipes

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Ok fine.

But I certainly wasn’t going to leave work and drive across town simply to flush a toilet. So I plotted out a list of other stops I could make on my way back. That list looked like this:

  1. Go to Mom and Dad’s. Flush the toilet. Grab a snack.
  2. Stop by the Goodwill and drop off one last box to donate before year end.
  3. Swing by Petco for dog food.
  4. IF TIME, wander over to Ulta for glitter nail polish (hey, New Year’s Eve was coming and my nails felt like dressing up).
  5. Head back to work

I made my first stop and completed the aforementioned toilet flushing. But I didn’t just flush one toilet. No, no. If I’m going to do a job, I’m going to do it well. I flushed TWO toilets and I also ran a few faucets.

There will be no pipe freezing on my watch!

I grabbed a bag of apple slices and off I went to Goodwill.

Part of me was bracing for a huge line of people doing the same thing but the universe was smiling upon me for I pulled up and found only one car ahead of me.  I handed over my box, got a receipt and headed out. As I looked in my rear view mirror I saw a line of literally 10 cars behind me. Damn. Talk about good timing!

Next stop – Petco!

This is where is gets weird.

I pull in to the parking lot and spy a rock star spot that is a pull through.

Sidebar: to know me you must know that I never pass up a pull through spot. I hate driving in reverse – it’s inefficient and, well, not my strong suit – so any time the opportunity of a pull through presents itself, I’ll take it. If you really want to tick me off, pull in to a spot with a clear pull through and don’t take it. That makes absolutely no sense to me. At all. God gave us pull throughs for a reason people. (I’m not alone in this as it ranks as #879 on a list of 1000 Awesome things)

ParkingSpaces

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But I digress.

I’m all set to pull through when a red Honda CR-V comes out of nowhere and TAKES the spot I was going to pull forward into. I’m sitting there, aghast, staring at 2 women my age wondering what they could possibly have been thinking. One of them looks up and makes eye contact with me and I’m pretty sure I saw guilt in her eyes. Or maybe it was shame.

I glare at them from behind my sunglasses and exit the car. As I’m approaching the store, I notice the driver of said CR-V is walking in to Petco behind me.

I stop to get a cart because I’m there to get dog food and with a big dog like Samson, you buy as big of a bag as you can on each trip or else you’ll be there all the time. And I’m not going to schlep around the store hauling  a 35lb. bag of food over my shoulder. I’ll leave that for the barbarian pull through stealer, who by the way walked passed the carts and ahead of me in to the store.

As I’m making my way to the back, where the food is, I see the Thief coming back to the front and getting a cart. I find the aisle I need and hoist that big bag o’food in to the cart. At that moment, Thiefy enters the same aisle behind me.

Having acquired what I needed, I exit the aisle and turn left toward the check out area. I hear Stealy McStealerson grab a 35 lb. bag of her own (the same brand of food I had just picked, by the way) and put it in her cart. Sure enough, pretty soon here she comes out of the aisle and plotting along behind me toward the cash register.

I enter the check out queue and so does she.

I wait behind a lady buying crickets for a snake (ew) and the Robber Barron waits behind me.

At my turn, I hand over a coupon and member card, pay and continue on. Out of the corner of my eye I notice her hand over her member card and a coupon.

Seriously? Is this a prank of some kind? Or did I enter another dimension where someone is always doing the same thing as me, only 30 seconds later?

I quicken my pace and load the food in to my car. Stealy’s friend is sitting in the CR-V waiting for her. I return my cart and practically run next door to Ulta.

I made a beeline for the clearance section, which happened to be conveniently by the nail polish, and wait, just sure Robbie Robberson is going to walk in at any moment. But alas she does not. I seem to have shaken her for good.

I grab my sparkly shellac, along with a holiday lotion set that was 50% off (it would be a crime NOT to buy it!), and  head out. The CR-V is gone when I get back to my car.

Ok so maybe the whole thing wasn’t as dramatic as all that but it was still very weird. It sort of made me think about life’s little coincidences. Or what about the times we miss a catastrophe by mere seconds and think, man, if I had been 10 seconds later, I would be the one in that accident.

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I’ll never know if there was a purpose for all that or if it was just a happenstance but it sure amused me. Who knows, maybe right now, somewhere in Omaha, there’s another 37 year old mom and owner of a big dog just starting a blog post, as I finish mine.

 

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Thrifty

I’ll admit it. I used to be a snob about thrift store shopping. The whole idea of wearing someone else’s clothes gave me the heebee jeebees. And I didn’t have the patience for combing through the racks or walking around looking at endless shelves of “junk”.

I’d much rather pay full retail price for something shiny and new, I’d say.

But then during a casual conversation with friends, we found out that upon losing a lot of weight, and needing to basically get a whole new wardrobe, they started hitting thrift stores. Virtually their whole closet is filled with items found at said stores (and they always look good). That gave me something to noodle over. Then, in reading more decorating blogs with stories of people finding something shabby for a dollar and turning it in to something amazing, I became convinced that this was worth trying.

So, 2 weeks ago I made my first Goodwill run. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Not sure why but I guess there’s a certain skill to thrifting and I felt like a total newbie with the spotlight shining on me. I walked among aisles, glancing at things but not really looking. I saw other people with shopping carts full of stuff and was in awe. I went to 2 stores and my total loot was one throw pillow.

I felt somewhat successful though I knew I could do better. I decided to make Friday evenings my Goodwill time so last Friday I carried out the same mission, only I went to two different stores. This time I loaded up.

At the first one I found 2 cardigan sweaters, a pair of slippers (we’re going to have a “no shoes” rule at the new house and want to provide slippers for guests to wear), a blue vase and 4 colorful plates (for the new kitchen). Grand total: $20.

At the next one I got a cool lamp that will be perfect for the family room and 3 pairs of child sized slippers. Grand total: $15.

Then on Saturday, I took Isabella with me and we hit one store. Didn’t find as much there. We got a throw pillow, Clifford book for her, and a water bottle. Grand total: $6.

I’m still new at this and trying to figure it all out. But I’m learning. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up so far:

  1. Go often: this is probably the biggest rule of thumb. You can’t go once every 6 months and expect to find what you want. You have to be a regular as the product moves fast.
  2. Don’t have expectations: unlike regular shopping, you can’t go in with a list of items you want, because they may not have them. You need to have a general idea of what you’re looking for but yet have an open mind.
  3. Isolate: No, not yourself. Isolate the various items. It’s hard to see an item on the shelf, amongst hundreds of other items, and picture it in your house. You have to pick it up, look it over and try to envision it on your mantle or countertop or in your kids’ room. And again – have an open  mind!
  4. Carve out some time: you can’t race through the store in 5 min. If you want to find stuff, you have to walk up and down every aisle. That was my rookie mistake the first time around. I was too impatient.
  5. Go to different stores: there are like 20 different Goodwill’s in Omaha, plus all kinds of other thrift stores. Rotate locations. They all have different inventory and depending on the neighborhood, will have varying qualities. It goes to show that a store in a more wealthy part of town will probably have nicer stuff. But not necessarily. Visit them all and find your favorites, then get in a rotation to visit your favs on a regular basis.

My hope is to build my wardrobe and decorate my new house with thrift store items. Not only will it be cheaper but I’m also more likely to find unique and fun pieces that I couldn’t find at Target, Wal-Mart or other retail chain stores.

Thrift on!

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Epic Shopping Fail

And then another thing

Last night I had to swing by the grocery store on my way home from work. This is a pretty normal recurrence in my life. Usually it’s for things like milk and bananas and this trip was no exception.

I had a long day to begin with and was looking forward to getting home and having some quality family time. My plan was to jet in and out of the store – fast as lightning!

The universe had other ideas.

I got to the store and scored rock star parking. Yes!! Like a good little environmentally friendly girl, I went to the trunk to get my canvas shopping bags. However, I had forgotten that my car was loaded down with like 50 cardboard boxes (flattened) that I had snagged from a co-worker.

boxes

Not sure how I could have forgotten this since they were precluding my view in the rearview mirror the whole drive, but somehow I did. Anyway, I open up back (I drive an SUV) and half of the boxes came sliding out, all over the parking lot.

Shit. That’s what I said. I stood there in a daze, not quite sure what had just happened and then said “shit” out loud. Some guy walking by looked at me and kept going.

I couldn’t just pick them up and throw them back in because they were slippery little guys and would just slide right out. So I had to wrestle the door closed and somehow get all those boxes back in the car. One by one I slide them in through the rear driver side door and over the back seat into the trunk. Several people walked by and stared. No one stopped to help. They must have thought I had just gotten the boxes from the store. I let them think that.

When that was all done I made a beeline inside. There was an old woman dawdling by the carts so I scooted around her and grabbed the closest one, not realizing it was one with a busted wheel until I was half way in to the store and tried to turn it.

Shit, I said again. I HATE getting carts that are jacked up. It makes the shopping experience that much worse. I already hate grocery shopping, and now I have to wrestle with my cart. But I was in a hurry and didn’t want to turn around and dodge the old lady again just to get a new cart. I figured I’d deal with it.

So I spent the entire shopping trip manhandling this cart. I had to strong-arm it with my left hand to keep from veering right. And when it was time to turn, I had to practically pick the thing up. I’m sure I looked really cool, leaning all my weight in to this cart while balancing on 4 inch heels.

shopping cart

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And then the store didn’t even have 3 of the items I needed.

I got everything I could and headed for the check out. I ended up in line behind some gal who bought 10 boxes of granola bars thinking they were on sale for $1.99 and not realizing you needed a special coupon for that. So she pitched a fit until the cashier caved and gave her the cheaper price.

While waiting, I checked my phone and saw I had a voicemail from CJ. He was asking me to grab sour cream for our dinner that night. I wasn’t about to get out of line and take the gimpy cart to the very back of the store so I decided to pay for what I had, then set the cart aside and run back for the sour cream, paying for it separately. I could have just pretended I didn’t get the VM but that would have been wrong. After all, a sour cream-less dinner is just criminal.

It was finally my turn and I checked out with no problem. I then parked my cart, ran back for the goods and was soon headed out the door. Guess what? The cart from hell is even harder to operate when you get it outside on the concrete. I was literally leaning sideways on this thing trying to get it down the aisle. The same guy who passed me earlier, when I had boxes strewn all over tarnation passed me again and I got another look, like wow, this lady has problems.

I got to my car and almost – ALMOST – opened the trunk again. I had my hand on the handle and everything. But I remembered at the last-minute and dodged that bullet. Due to all the boxes though, the only free space available was Isabella’s car seat. I was able to cram 2 paper sacks, 1 plastic one and a box of baby wipes into the car seat and on the floor in front of it, all the while avoiding door dinging the car next to me. What can I say, I rock.

I was tempted to leave my cart where it was, behind the car, and simply back over it, putting both it and any future shoppers out of their misery. But I didn’t want to scratch my car. So I practically threw it in the cart corral. I thought about leaving a note on it that said, “My time is done, please put me to sleep” but didn’t.

istockphoto_541262-dead-shopping-cart

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I drove home and again went through the process of wrestling the groceries out of the car seat and up the stairs. I arrived just in time for dinner, which was already finished, sans sour cream. *sigh*

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Last week I got my first bonus at work. It was really awesome considering I hadn’t received a bonus for 3 years before that! Winning!

Anywho, part of me wanted to be responsible with it and part of me wanted to have some fun! So I compromised. I decided to put 10% of the bonus in savings, spend 10% however I wanted and then apply the rest toward our credit card balance. Sounds fair, right?

Well I couldn’t wait to get out and start shopping. For the splurge, I was going to buy some much needed new clothes for myself. I needed some change! So over lunch, I hit the mall with a vengeance. My plan was to go to every women’s clothing store there, that wasn’t a department store. I would go directly to the clearance racks and only buy something on sale. Generally I have trouble when I shop clearance racks but that’s because I am looking for something specific. When I go with an open mind, it works better.

My other goal was to leave a little love note, Operation Beautiful style, in each dressing room I used. Here was the first one:

notes2

I left this one in the bathroom, on the stall door. I saw a lady go in there as I was leaving the bathroom. I hope she enjoyed it!

At first the shopping was slow going. The stores I went to either didn’t have a clearance area or there was nothing for me. But that didn’t stop me from leaving a note for the next shopper!

notes1

First of all, pardon my bad hair day. It was really humid and I was pulling shirts over my head a lot. Secondly, I kind of have a crazed look in my eye. I think I was trying to smile, look in the mirror and look at the camera all at the same time. The result – crazy-eyed Sarah!

Finally my luck changed when I got to New York & Co. I ended up with 3 shirts and a pair of shoes from there.

notes3

The shirt on the right is one of the ones I bought.

dressing room

Here I am modeling one of the other shirts. Do I look fabulous darling? The grand total for my purchase at NY&Co? $63! Boo-yah!

From there I headed to DSW to see about getting some shoes. I tried on several pair and after hemming and hawing, decided on 2 that I liked. One pair of flats and one pair of sandal heels.

Here’s my note:

notes

And these are the heels I ended up getting.

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I think they’re sassy and I love the color. Not your typical brown but more of a bronze. They are quite comfortable too! Grand total for 2 pair of shoes – $42!

After DSW, it was off to Old Navy! I didn’t try anything on there because I was running short on time. I was also in search of something to get for CJ and Isabella. After all, they should get some bonus money splurge too!

I found a shirt for me, 2 t-shirts for CJ (Superman and Captain America) and an outfit for Isabella. You can see part of it here:

DSC01582

By then my time was up and I had to rush back to work. It felt really good to get out and do some shopping for myself. I haven’t really bought any new clothes in months and my wardrobe was looking tired. Isn’t it amazing how a couple shirts and shoes can make life just a little more exciting?

Can’t wait for the next bonus!

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Old Mother Hubbard

Generic

Epic Shopping Fail!

It’s been a long week. Stress from work coupled with the big project at home makes Sarah a tired girl. I decided yesterday that I needed a little pick-me-up. Instead of running straight to the neighborhood dive bar for a stiff drink and some old man ogling, I went shopping.

We have a local store called The Post and Nickel that sells high end designer clothes. It’s going out of business so everything in the store is discounted. There are signs all over the outside that say  “EVERYTHING MUST GO!” and “CLOSE OUT LIQUIDATION SALE!” so I thought I’d be able to snag a great deal on some designer clothes.

I thought wrong.

But before I get to that, let’s step back a minute. Yesterday was an “I’m too tired to give a damn about how I look because I just want to be comfortable” kind of day. Fortunately I have a job that lets me indulge in comfie clothes on those days so I was wearing a fleece sweatshirt, jeans and Sketchers walking shoes. I also had my hair in its natural state, which is limp and wavy.

Pretty much exactly like this (except this pic was taken at a different time):

family

When I left work, it was raining at a pretty good clip. Being the healthy girl that I am, I had parked in the very last row of stalls because it forced me to walk farther. That works great on a nice sunny morning but not so great on a cold rainy afternoon. By the time I got to my car, my already limp and wavy hair was now limp, curly and plastered to my head.

Hot sexy baby!

Now picture that vision of a woman walking in to a designer clothing store. The whole place seemed to come to a halt. It was like everyone just stopped and stared as if to say, “Um, like, are you lost or something? This isn’t a homeless shelter…” I remained casual and strode on in, with purpose and confidence. I was repeating mantras in my head like “I am worthy of designer clothing” and “I make more money than these snooty sales people dammit!” and “I am a “Pretty Woman” too!”.

I was looking for a watch. Mine died and I thought this would be a good chance to replace it with something cool, at a decent price. That was my mistake – expecting a decent price. Everything in there was marked down 60-70% and it was still over $100!  I did find one pair of jeans for $39.99 but they didn’t fit. No watches that I could afford either.

So now I felt like a fat, drenched, poor little mouse. And I quietly slinked out of the building, hoping no one would notice and sneer.

I was still on the lookout to buy something – anything – to perk me up. A watch, a purse, some shoes…I didn’t care at this point! I looked around for a place that I don’t ever shop, as I wanted to try new things, and my eyes landed on Marshall’s. I thought hey, I’ve heard of friends getting great deals there on cool stuff, I’ll give it a go. I ventured on over and sprinted in from the rain, only this time everyone in the store looked like me so I didn’t feel too out-of-place.

I hit the shoes first. Nothing struck my fancy. You know how when you’re in one of those moods to shop yet can’t find anything you like? Yeah, that was me. Strike 1. I wandered over to the purses next.  Nothing that I liked or could afford. I was actually surprised how expensive Marshall’s was! $50 for a purse? Um, no. That probably seems cheap and reasonable to some people but to this “the cheaper the better when it comes to purses” gal, that was too much. Strike 2. After that, it was watches. However, apparently Marshall’s doesn’t carry jewelry because I wandered around the whole store and found nothing. Strike 3.

You’re out!

I gave up at that point and just went home empty-handed. I was feeling depressed and grouchy but when I got home I was welcomed with open arms and tail wags, which really, is all anyone needs anyway.

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