Thursday, August 1, 2013

Thoughts on Retail and Other Matters

After posting some updates about Zuzu, it occurred to me that I might have some things to share about myself and how sad it would be if the narcissistic exercise of my blogging turned into merely a show and tell about my kid instead of a soul-baring tell-all about shopping bargains and things I saw on Pinterest?

Let the soul-baring begin!

# # #

I go to the mall very rarely.  Not because I'm snobby and too cool for the mall, but because I like the mall too much.  When I was a kid, we lived an hour away from the nearest mall.  Shopping trips were few and far between, and when we did go shopping, we meant business.  It was an all-day affair, including lunch at the food court (Panda Express!  Sbarro!  Huzzah!) and by the end of the day, my mom would have dropped a small fortune on back-to-school clothes or Christmas gifts and I wouldn't see the inside of the mall again until another change of seasons or change of shoe size, whichever came first.

I now live fifteen minutes from a glorious mall but when I am there, I get the same feeling of intensity, like I must Super Shop and stock up for the entire season.  Anyway, this is why I don't go to the mall very often.

I managed to keep myself in check the last time I was there, which was with my mom and Zuzu over the weekend.  I also managed to score a fabulous bargain on a pair of shoes--nude patent peep toe wedges from Ann Taylor.  They are the kind of comfortable that you'd hope $118 shoes would be BUT they were on clearance for $19.99 AND an additional 40% off.  Making them all of $12.  Is there anything I love more than a $12 shoe?  Not much.

# # #

You know how some people really like a certain band and then when everybody starts listening to them, those people are too cool for that band because now it's gone mainstream?  And they're all I liked Death Cab for Cutie before anyone knew who they were or whatever?  I used to be sort of into new music in college but it was much easier when I had boyfriends who could tell me what music was cool instead of a husband who only listens to classic country (sorry, but David Allen Coe and George Jones are not hip).  Anyway, I am not one of those people when it comes to music.  When it comes to music, I'm one of those, "I heard this review on NPR" which makes me just about as un-hip as George Jones, may he rest in peace.

I am sort of snooty when it comes to coffee shops, though, and it annoys me when my favorite places do a bustling business.  I find it very difficult to read Hamlet over a lot of coffee shop chatter and I am supposed to be teaching Hamlet in about, oh, three weeks.  I thought I hadn't read Hamlet since college, but then I found my Shakespeare text from a class I took in grad school and it turns out I must have read Hamlet in grad school, because there are marginal notes made in my handwriting.  But I don't remember it (I do remember King Lear, so it's not like the class was a total waste.  Except I'm not teaching King Lear, I'm teaching Hamlet.  Which was pre-assigned and not my choice of texts.  I would have chosen Othello because I wrote my honors thesis in college on the significance of the handkerchief in Othello so I am better at pretending I know what I'm doing when I talk about it.)

All this to say, I need a first rate coffee shop that no one else knows about.  And I need to figure out how to teach Hamlet, stat.

# # #

I'm going to paint the dining room over the weekend.  Sherwin Williams's paint sale started today and I've been waiting on their 30% off deal (patience pays off but their paint is still expensive!). I've already pulled down the chair rail and spackled the nail holes so it's all ready to go.  I've also chosen paint colors:  North Star for above-the-chair-rail and Granite Peak for below-the-chair-rail.  The color is most important, obviously.  North Star is a light gray-blue that's gotten good press out in the blogosphere and Granite Peak is a darker, slate gray-blue color on the same paint swatch.  But I also like that the one on the top part of the wall is named for something up in the sky while the lower color is a solid ground sort of name (well, peaks are high, but not as high as stars).  Anyway, that sort of thing pleases me.

I also got two paint samples to test out in the living room.  I wish SW would sell tiny samples like Behr does, but you have to buy a quart.  With the sale price, the quart was $5.  So I got a quart of Big Chill and a quart of Silverpoint.  Going in, I thought I favored Silverpoint.  After putting the samples up on the wall, it was clear that Big Chill was the winner.  It's lighter and less blue, more of a true gray.  And it looks good with the paint choice for the dining room.  I am super excited to get rid of this fleshy-beige-verging-on-mustard color that's currently on the walls, so I have a date with a paint roller this weekend.  I think it's going to transform this place and I cannot wait.

# # #

Other things that please me:  Orange is the New Black.  It's the Netflix series made just for Netflix and I don't know how these things work, but I do know that in the sliver of TV time at my house that's not dedicated to Cardinal baseball, we've been watching OITNB.  It's about a girl who goes to prison and I'm kind of obsessed and also finding myself sort of anxious about the (hopefully nonexistent?) possibility of going to prison (I don't think I would do well there--I don't make friends easily and I find the high-school-esque social system very intimidating.  Not to mention it's prison.).  Anyway, it's the only show I'm watching this summer and it's really good.

# # #

I've been on a bit of Pinterest binge lately, by which I mean I'm actually doing the things I pinned.  For example, I poured blue Dawn dish soap and vinegar in a scrubby brush and cleaned my bathtub with it.  Worked pretty well, but it could have been the fact that I was making an effort that made the tub really look good.  Later, I also tried the half-a-grapefruit and Kosher salt scrub for the bathtub which did smell delicious but didn't seem to work as well as the soap + vinegar.

In fact, I'm cleaning everything with water + vinegar these days.  I refilled a J.R.R. Watkins spray bottle (because they are cute) with water and vinegar and I use it to wipe down Zuzu's high chair after meals.  I also spray it on the kitchen floor, the counters, and use it for cleaning in the bathroom.  Some people don't like the smell of vinegar, but I kind of love it.  Isn't that weird?  I don't like pickles though.

I also made these garbage-disposal-refresher tabs out of baking soda and a lemon and kosher salt and I can't say they've transformed my life, but they look cute and were easy to make.

And I made this cloth wipes solution, which has changed my life.  I pour it over my wipes after putting them in the wipe warmer and it is super great and smells amazing.

I like projects like those that make me feel like a homemaker without having to do the hard part of homemaking.  Like putting away laundry.  (Doing the laundry is fine; it's the putting away part that I find so tedious.)

# # #

I had a good birthday.  I'd rate my last two birthdays (1) utterly miserable and (2) somewhat lackluster.  Perhaps because I was still deep in the trenches of grief at 31 and in a bit of a postpartum haze at 32.  This birthday was a good day.  Magical weather helped, as did a cute outfit, a delicious brunch date, an afternoon at the botanical gardens, and a movie date that evening.

Yesterday, though, I was in a bit of a slump.  I think maybe everybody in their 30s starts to feel some of the existential life-crisis stuff with each passing year, but I can't help but believe it's so much harder for those of us whose lives look dramatically different than we'd imagined and hoped for at this point.  For example:  I thought by age 33 I'd have a three year old and a brand new baby (or one on the way).  I thought I'd be pretty much done having kids.

My life is not in a bad place now, all things considered (and Eliza's death notwithstanding), but it's just not where I thought I'd be.  I know that the sense of control is mostly an illusion, but it's one that I miss having.  I still can't believe that I'm 33 years old and I have two daughters and one of them is dead.  Doesn't that just sound completely unreal?

# # #

David and I learned today of another couple who had a stillborn baby.  He told me about it, and I burst into tears.  I hate that I know what they're going through.  I hate that someone else is suffering that crippling loss.  I hate that this happens.

# # #

Zuzu is still nursing at bedtime and first thing in the morning.  In fact, it's the wee hours of the morning (as far as I'm concerned, 5 to 6am still qualifies as "wee") and then she goes back down until 7:30.  Usually our bedroom routine goes like this:

books (Who Loves Zuzu?, Llama, Llama, Nighty-night, and Good Night Moon)
rocking and singing ("Forever Young," "You Are My Sunshine," and "Twinkle, Twinkle")

Tonight David gave her a bath and I went up to nurse her and after she squirmed her way through Good Night Moon, I realized that she was squirmy because she didn't want ME, she wanted her Daddy.  So I handed her over and David did the rocking and singing part of bedtime.  Which both melted my heart and also made me kind of jealous.

# # #

In other thrilling news, I used birthday money to order a few bookcases for my basement!  Three to be exact.  Three bookcases will not hold all my books, but will help me get somewhat organized.  I am super excited, and even more excited that they were (1) on sale (2) free shipping and (3) 5% off with my Target debit card.  All told, I saved about $150.  So yay!  With a painted dining room and bookcases downstairs, the house might finally start making me feel less antsy.

Not to worry.  I can always come up with another project.

# # #

Okay.  That's it from me.  Anybody watching anything good on TV (I'm almost finished with OITNB and then what will I do with my life?)?  Anybody actually making any Pinterest projects?  Anybody want to come help me paint this weekend?


  1. Ho-lee Brooke...girl can write!

    I get anxious in malls in that 'i hve to check out all the end of season sale!' sense even when I don't reallyNEED any of it.

    You are such a git er done home owner! Go you on getting the dining room prepped and soon to be painted! Go grey! And love the blue grey choices.

    I will be 30 in December, and I cannot believe this is my life. I'm not at all where I thought I would be. 2 boys before 30. Did not think that would be my life, and I did not think I'd ever say 'but one of them is dead'.

    I could do laundry all day. Hell, I'll even fold it. But it will sit folded in the basket for weeks before you catch me putting it away....

    I'll have to check out that series. "and not to mention, it's prison!" made me laugh. I'm still watching reruns of the office from season one to season done on a daily basis. I'm waiting for P and Rs not season.

    Love the blog post for tonight. Thanks for the read!
    And I would soooo help you paint, but I'd probably get stopped at the boarder after saying "just helping a girlfriend paint her living and dining areas" - smile.

  2. I know you know about ebates but did you know about upromise? It's the same concept as ebates but the money goes to your child's 529 plan so you get to justify shopping by earning them money for college! And the percent back is usually higher. They have Target 5% back so it's pretty awesome.

    Come paint my house next please?!

    Ugh, the Cardinals.

    Somehow I graduated from college without ever reading Hamlet...and I took a Shakespeare entire class! Oh well...if you ever want to borrow my Titus Andronicus notes, they are all yours!

    Happy belated birthday!

  3. Did you ever catch up on Downton Abbey? Thoughts?

    Also, the vinegar and soap was a bust for me so I'm glad it works better for you.

    How do you organize your books? By genre? By author? By look? I am sure that will be quite the project.

    Miles and I have been watching "Naked and Afraid" on the discovery channel. Two people are dropped into harsh conditions, NAKED, and have to survive for 21 days. Find food, shelter, and make it to their extraction point. The last episode involved a shit ton of snakes. I would hyperventilate and quit. In that order.

  4. I only watch horrible TV in the summer (although I am watching Orange and House of Cards and like them both)

    Have you read the book? It is way better in print than on TV, I think, and I like Piper Kerman way better than Piper Chapman.

    Also, I used ot work at Ann Taylor during the summer in grad school and I do like their shoes.

  5. I got distracted with my comment by seeing Caroline's comment. We don't have cable and never watch commercial TV, so when we visit family we gorge on it and watch round the clock HGTV. Every five minutes they played a commercial for Naked and Afraid. That's some sick looking stuff.

    Sorry to get sidetracked.

    Did you watch / like Weeds? I have a feeling we're going to like Orange is the New Black because we were such a fan of Weeds too. I just don't want to start it because we're currently watching old Arrested Development episodes because we never saw them the first time. Not only do we not have cable, but pre-digital TV, our rabbit ears didn't pick up Fox either - no great loss there. (Except for Arrested Development apparently.)

  6. Happy Belated birthday. I also will turn 33 in a mere 3 days. It's weird and I feel very similar emotions especially about one dead son and one living son. I took V to a library thing tonight first kettle corn first cotton candy and free at that. But it's those firsts that always get me. I am also reading the first Maisie Dobbs book at your blogo suggestion and the lost love shares my boy's name. I like reading his name though. I seem to always look for C's name in things so to find V feels right. Look forward to the painting pics. I just painted our kitchen summer jasmine. The lightest shade of green ever and I love it! ~M

  7. OITNB is the next show we will be watching! My brother's GF can't stop talking about it so I'm glad that you like it too. I'm even more excited to watch it now! We are finishing up Orphan Black it's BBC, but don't let that scare you. The whole first season is on OnDemand. I highly recommend it, we are totally sucked in.

  8. We are hooked on Mad Men, Downton Abbey and Breaking Bad which is about to start it's highly anticipated last season...ah!

    I feel the same way about malls...I used to go alot and walk around and get a smoothie, but now I have to go myself to get any shopping done! :)

    Can't wait to try your cloth wipes solution. We have cloth diapered for a bit and I have some cloth wipes ready but I haven't taken the plunge. I read some people use a spray bottle, some mix a solution etc. We have a wipes warmer so I will give this a try!


  9. Mad men is what I'm obsessed with now!! All 6 seasons are in Netflix streaming.

    Love reading your home improvement stuff - maybe it will motivate me??


  10. Brian and I are OBSESSED with Friday Night Lights. It's full of great drama and the acting is really, really, good. And no, I'm not being sarcastic. Oh, and Coach Taylor is extremely easy on the eyes.

    And I also like the smell of vinegar. So clearly, you would also like FNL.

  11. Orange Is The New Black is spectacular. Brooke L and I both loved it. I watched House of Cards earlier this year and it was also spectacular, but if you don't like political dramas, it may not do much for you.

  12. I was about to try the vinegar and soap trick. Our shower is embarrassingly awful.

    We watched the first few episodes of House of Cards but then stopped because I was so mad at the characters. Can't they be just a little bit moral? Clearly it's well acted because I'm furious at those guys!

  13. I am all about the homemade cleaning supplies stuff. I even put out a small book about them over the summer that contains recipes I have used.

    My favorite thing at the moment is to mix a small amount of vinegar and olive oil. It makes a really, really good furniture polish on natural wood surfaces. You can kind of have to play around with the portions, though, and a little goes a long way. I add a few drops of lemon juice or lemon essential oil to and it smells good.

    My other thing is to take a mason jar and fill it with brown sugar. I add olive oil, some vitamin E oil (found it at the dollar store), and lavender essential oil. It makes a wonderful body scrub. I like it better than Bath and Body Work's and it's a lot cheaper.

    If you want to recycle your eggshells and make a scrub for your bathroom fixtures, like your tub, then grind your eggshells in a blender or food processor until they are a powder. Add baking soda to them. You need a lot of eggs, like 2 dozen, so I save mine over time. You can sprinkle this mixture on a wet cloth and use it as a calcium scrub. I've used it on the toilet and tub.

    Geeze. That was a long comment!


  14. I have loved watching " keeping up appearances" ...a quixotic kind of british comedy. Am watching the IT crowd now. Its sort of okay. Guess, being a computer engg, myself makes it amusing to see it. I wish netflix gets the season 7 for how i met ...soon.
    I would have lended you a hand at painting, except that hubbys working this weekend and baby has her shots scheduled. And we dont go out for a couple of days she takes her shots, so we dont exhaust her too much.
    I made a bracelet holder on pinterest. Am so proud of it. Haha!

  15. I haven't started watching Orange Is the New Black yet, but I've heard good things. Also about House of Cards.

    Have you watched Homeland? Or, going back, The Wire?

    I read several people recommending Downton Abbey. I adored the first two season. I read about a crisis in childbirth in second 3 that kept me from watching the season. I won't say more, due to spoilers, but google can get you all the info if you want to be warned.

  16. Oh man, I loved this! You have such a great voice :-). Hubster and I are catching up on breaking bad and game of thrones at the moment and we love it. I'm seriously considering getting rid of TV altogether and just rocking with Netflix. I love the decorating posts, keep 'em coming!

  17. I am so embarrassed to admit this...but my guilty pleasure show is Mistresses. When I first saw the previews, I seriously thought to myself that it looked like porn on prime-time. But...I have watched every damn episode. AND, I was so desperate to keep watching that I succumbed to watching it on my phone because I can't watch it anywhere around my kids!! And it wasn't on last week so I have had to WAIT for a new episode to come out. I think I am going to have to check out this show you speak of though...

    I was slightly caught off guard by the "baby loss" paragraph. I literally stopped reading, scrolled back up to the top to see what the date was, scrolled back down and read it again, and teared up....again. :'( I honestly didn't think twice about telling David, until after I had told him. I hate that you guys ever have to be the people who can help someone through this, but I was thankful in that moment to have someone to ask, "what can I do??" And he was extremely helpful. Although Colton was such a little "surprise" to us all, he was very loved already.