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Tag Archives: shopping

Relationship Status: Survived a Trip to IKEA

My wife and I recently celebrated 12 years of marriage.  I know to some that is a long time and to others we are still relatively new at this.  Here is the thing though, I think 12 calendar years is probably equivalent to at least 20-25 IKEA years.  What I mean  is that this 12 year accomplishment  deserves your applause because during that time we probably made at least 20 trips to IKEA.  IKEA is like the Swedish Wal-Mart where healthy loving relationships go to die.

Tools? We don't need no stinking tools!

Tools? We don’t need no stinking tools!

I guess one of the good things about IKEA is that the golf pencil and little paper tape measure are free, especially since the marriage counseling is going to be so expensive. I mean, if they would let you take a plate of those delicious horse meat meatballs into the showroom I would go there by myself on a Saturday just to watch couples melt down in public.  I am pretty sure that any husband can agree that the 4 words that can strike fear into even the bravest of souls when spoken in an IKEA are “what do you think?’  WHAT DO I THINK?? EJECT, EJECT, SAVE YOURSELVES I’M DEAD ALREADY.  What I think is that after 20 seconds in that place we are all drunk on sleek design and functionality and that intoxication will soon wear off when we realize no number of multi-tool organizational shelving units will make the inside of our house look like the showroom there.  Of course that isn’t what I said.  What I said was, I think it is great, I think everything in here is great.  I think if we get this dining room desk /storage unit with hidden drawers and special built-in lights that take light bulbs that cannot be purchased anywhere else on the planet it will probably solve most of our problems.  Que meltdown.

At IKEA this is like finding Super Mario's secret warp zone to world 8-1.

At IKEA this is like finding Super Mario’s secret warp zone to world 8-1.

Those Swedes think of everything though, because it is hard to look all pissed when you are storming off pushing a cart with 4 swivel wheels and you have to Tokyo drift around the corner to avoid knocking over a display of 4000 glass tea light holders.  The also know that any little argument can easily fade away when you turn the corner and both marvel at the 200 square foot living space.  Suddenly you want to trade your big house in the suburbs for a broom closet because how cool is all of this stuff?

I need to be honest though, while it is possible that IKEA can present some unique relationship challenges, they do have some cool stuff; no Viking helmets but cool stuff none the less.  We have some of their cool stuff in our house and most of the time the joy of new furniture is enough to quell the in store disputes and bring everyone back to a happy place before the put together meltdown occurs.

I think we all know about the put together meltdown.  I am a pretty handy guy I fix stuff and know my way around a tool box but that really doesn’t matter when it comes to Swedish engineering.  There is no piece of IKEA furniture in our house that wasn’t halfway assembled then taken apart and reassembled because I had something upside down or backwards or inside out. You would think that the only  problem with that would be the increased amount of time to complete the build and the addition of a few 4 letter words to your kid’s vocabulary but the real problem is this:

Once she learned the new curse words it was time to let her take over.

Once she learned the new curse words it was time to let her take over.

Furniture from IKEA is not designed to be taken apart and put back together.  With the re-screwing or allen wrenching or whatever you call it of each bolt with that multi-tool the structural integrity is compromised.  So basically after a 6 pack of beer, 2 cut knuckles, a kid wondering what that word meant and a bucket of tears (mine not there’s) you wind up with a bedside table that is capable of holding an alarm clock and a pencil and anything heavier than that causes the legs to wobble.

They say that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I think that this can be applied to relationships for sure.  Arguing in IKEA can be pretty weak but getting home and lounging on your new futon/file cabinet/spice rack is totally sweet.

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Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Sweet

Racing the GPS 

image via garmin.com

The dashboard GPS has to be one of the greatest inventions ever.  I mean it is right up there with air conditioning and the baconator.  For one thing, if you have a GPS you never have to listen to your wife nag  suggest you stop and ask a stranger for directions (which might as well be the same as getting out of the car wearing a shirt that says: I am only 75% of the man you are).  This little device, though often frustrating , brings a certain calming quality to our marriage when I decide to take a short cut and dare veer off of the digital pink line of safety.  Sure, sometimes we follow our digital mate precisely and put an unhealthy amount of trust into it as we wind up cursing under our breath and turning around in vacant lots or wishing we were still on the paved road but all in all, it is pretty dang awesome.

I think that my favorite thing about our GPS is that on long drives it gives me a clear competitive objective.  When I am driving and using the GPS, all of the goals in my life boil down to one thing.  Beating the arrival time on the GPS.  It is almost embarrassing how much joy I derive from beating the GPS.  I say almost because the amount of awesome clearly outweighs any shame.  One of the great things about racing the GPS is that it re calibrates as you go so if you gain a minute, it will adjust giving you instant gratification.  I went on two separate business road trips this week and am happy to say that I beat the GPS each time.  There are a couple of ways that you can beat the GPS like catching green lights or light traffic, but the best way to win is by speeding.  I drive a lot, so as a byproduct I speed a lot.  I don’t mean driving reckless like a maniac but my cruise control is most comfortable at least 8 mph above the posted limit.  I don’t know why it is, but anytime I cross back into my home state I feel a sense of relief like the state troopers here will welcome me home as a favorite son and overlook my GPS racing.  This is stupid for several reasons, mostly because  I really only seem to get tickets in Georgia.

Driving can often be a long mundane tiring task, but beating the GPS can make it totally sweet.

 

Weak

If Only I had a Portable Infrared Sauna 

image via consumertraveler.com

Have you ever heard of a plane crashing because of an iphone?  Maybe missing the runway and landing in a river because of a Kindle?  No?  Funny, me either.  I know that in my house we have computers and cell phones and regular cordless phones and baby monitors all running at the same time with nary a glitch or disruption.  So here is the thing. I don’t think that safety has anything to do with the reason that we have to turn off all electronics before take-off and landing on a plane.  I think the real reason is Sky Mall.  Unless you bring your own material, the seat in front of you really only contains 2 pieces of reading material (assuming you don’t need to read the barf bag or evacuation instructions)  some boring airline magazine that really is just about restaurants in cities you aren’t on your way to, or Sky Mall.

Sky Mall has comandeered my attention more than once below 10,000 feet.  In fact, had I not read about it only a day before Mother’s Day, my wife may have been the proud owner of one of these:

Sit back and just say ahhhhh to in-home relaxation. Portable Infrared Sauna $399.99
image via Sky Mall

Something about flipping through Sky Mall makes me feel like I am severely lacking in iphone accessories, meerkat lawn statues, and pet car-seats.  Has anyone actually ordered anything from Sky Mall?  Perhaps a plush mini staircase for your little dog to climb up to your bed, or maybe packets of the first ever protein supplemented ketchup? I mean surely you are all getting your credit cards out to order one of these:

The Traveler’s Bed Bug Thwarting Sleeping Cocoon. $79.99
image via Sky Mall

You know, thanks to 20/20 and 60 minutes, that one may actually be a good idea.  I am sure there are folks out there that needed a bunion regulator or a generic Snuggie, I just doubt that Sky Mall is their retail destination.  Have you ever met anyone that works for Sky Mall?  Tell me that wouldn’t be the best job ever, getting to decide what makes it into the Christmas edition?  That actually may be my dream job.  I want to be in charge of all of the vendor’s submissions and test products in order to deem them worthy of mile high status.

Until then, I will continue to ask every flight attendant possible if they have ever seen one of these on an actual flight:

This person is able to sleep comfortably in any Seat! Can you say the same? Probably not, unless you have SkyRest. $29.95
image via Sky Mall

It looks like that guy is taking a restful snooze, but my guess would be that he passed out from exhaustion and light headedness after the 20 minutes it took to blow that thing up.  So far zero accounts of seeing one of these in person by any flight attendant I have ever asked.  I don’t know how much longer Sky Mall will be paying the airlines in order to gain a captive audience at the start and end of each flight, but until then I will participate in the flipping ritual and wonder if I need a hot dog toaster or one of those butler statue toilet paper holders.

It is funny to joke about after the fact but when you have to bring your chair to its upright position and lock your tray tables, the prospect of looking through a Sky Mall for the next 15 minutes is totally weak.

 


Don’t Mind if I Do

Sweet

Bonus! 

There are so many wonderful things about parenthood and raising a child that they are hard to list.  The magic in your child’s eyes when they are truly happy, the moment when the light bulb goes off and they learn something new;  those moments are sometimes like the one perfect golf shot in a horrible round.  You faced your fair share of frustration but those few key moments make up for them all and continue to re-enforce your love of the game.

I think all of that emotional junk is truly wonderful and great rewards to parenthood but I think it is time we discuss one of the more tangible wins that parenthood provides.  I want to talk to you about the bonus nugget.  That’s right, the 6th nugget of a 6 piece meal.  That little reward for being a good dad.  Not all gratification is instant but every now and then there it sits, giving you a little wink and saying, “atta boy, I’m all yours.”

It may sound silly but when that lone nugget remains and your kid has moved onto the playground or decided to finally attempt in public their Houdini high chair escape they have been perfecting at home, you grab that little reward, dunk it in polynesian sauce, and relish in parenthood sweetness.  But don’t take too long chewing a victory lap, your kid is about to bust their head open when her feet get tangled in the high chair straps.  get in the game buddy, the party is over.

The Bonus Nugget is totally sweet.

 

Weak

Three Gallons of Mustard 

The first time I ever wandered into a warehouse membership store (Costco, BJ’s, Sams, etc.)  I wasn’t married, didn’t have any kids, and still left with a three gallon tub of mustard.  Somewhere along the line I got caught up in the hype and the thought of being the mustard king for only six dollars was a bit intoxicating.  Two years later I threw away 2.5 gallons of old crusty mustard that had not been refrigerated after opening.  Who has room for a keg of mustard in their refrigerator?

Now that I am a family guy we take advantage of the local discount club and tend to have a better strategy when it comes to running an inventory of household necessities.  Some products like paper towels and diapers are stockpiled into a seemingly endless supply and some inventory like milk run in a” just in time” inventory management system.  There are benefits to both and they each have their drawbacks as well.  The only thing worse than being out of milk is having milk within 2 days of the expiration date (on either side), and where in your house is there enough room to store a pickup truck load full of paper products?

The worst part of the buying in bulk strategy is that it lulls you into a false sense of security with your seemingly infinite supply.  You start letting the baby empty an entire box of tissue because it is cute and when a drink is spilled you just put the entire roll of paper towels on top of it and step down until the quicker picker upper finishes its magic.  My wife isn’t a huge fan of this type of behavior but when our basement looks like a nuclear fall-out shelter full of supplies some of that stuff needs to be used.

It seems like it will last forever but guess what?  It doesn’t.  And though it may take months, when it is gone it always catches you off guard.  Walking into your bathroom and seeing an empty roll holder and a stack of yellow Wendy’s napkins on the back of the toilet is totally weak.


When Did Giving You Money Stop Being Enough?

Sweet

100 % More Country Stats 

About a month ago WordPress launched a new blog statistics page that shows the country that the click to view your blog originated.  If I am representative of many new bloggers, we begin writing because we have a creative side that needs to get out or have something funny or interesting to say and keyboards rarely interrupt or doze off in the middle of our diatribe.  Then in some mysterious way we kind of get sucked in to who is reading our stuff and even resort to surfing around other blogs leaving lame comments in hopes that they will return the favor.  Honestly I have only heard of that method of generating new readers.  I have never tried it myself.

I will be the first to admit though, that knowing people are reading your blog or even winding up there on accident because they Googled the word squatchy is pretty sweet.  For a certain period of time we get sucked into the statistics page and even neglect things we once held so dear like Facebook to see if anyone new has stopped by to read our nonsense.  I think it is a phase that we bloggers mature out of and realize that the reason we started a blog wasn’t to win a Shorty award or turn our blog into a NY Times bestseller.  We hold onto the dream of one day being Freshly Pressed but for the most part go back to our roots and write because we have things to say, not because we want to pump up our stat bar.

That was me, a happy maturing blogger that had gotten over my stats obsession and had shifted focus to writing what I wanted to write and enjoying the community of readers and fellow writers out that make the blogging process so rewarding.

There timing was impeccable.  Just as I had situated myself on the high road and stopped measuring my self -worth with my blog stats, WordPress showed me a page full of awesome little flag icons that tell me all of the places in the world my blog has popped up on a screen.  Just like that, I am sucked right back in.  I don’t have a huge map in my office that I put thumbtacks in every time I see a new country or anything, but based on the stats page this blog has been either viewed or accidentally stumbled upon in 57 different countries since the new feature started.  It probably seems silly to most people but if I see that 4 or more people in Paraguay clicked on my blog I decide it wasn’t an accident and I think it is pretty sweet.

This may be the closest I ever get to a glamorous life of international travel and I am OK with that.  So if you are reading this today or randomly landed here after Googling “ideas to disguise a TV remote” (true story) Where ya from?

Weak

What Happened to “Here’s your Receipt, Have a Nice Day.” 

Have you bought anything lately?  I am not sure exactly when it happened but it now seems like every transaction concludes with me getting a to do list.  I just gave you money.  When did that become not enough?  Here is the thing, I don’t want to be entered in your sweepstakes. I don’t have time to go home and spend two hours filling our surveys for every store I walked into at the mall today.  I am not going to go to this website and make sure I rate your service excellent just because you told me to.  I have stuff to do like spend 30 minutes thinking up back stories to who is reading my blog in Morocco.

Is it too much to ask to go back to the way things were?  Are people doing this?  Are people actually winning a $1000 gift certificate to Lens Crafters?  If I call the cable company because my favorite show Happy Endings isn’t coming in clear do I get to talk to a real person faster if I agree to the short 5 minute survey at the conclusion of this call?  I get it, in today’s world of business buzzwords, every single breath we take needs to be measured and the results quantified.  Somehow, some out of touch with reality power point slide has trickled all the way down to me standing in Sears pretending to listen to your spiel waiting for you to let me go so we can finally do something fun and get free samples in the food court.  If my opinion is really that valuable to you can’t you just install one of those Facebook “like” buttons next to your cash register?  I would happily take a second of my time to high-five a blue glowing thumbs up button if I knew I wouldn’t have to take home a four foot long receipt with different sections circled and your name scrawled across the bottom in a plea for me to rate you excellent.

If you work in retail you probably hate this more that I do and I truly empathize with you.  Getting a sales pitch, a guilt trip, a chore list, and a pocket full of paper when all I wanted to do was buy socks is totally weak.


So This is How Thomas Edison Must Have Felt.

Sweet

Kitchen Serendipity 

Some days just seem to drain you.  After a long day at work the gauntlet of preparing dinner, giving baths, helping with home work, and trying to spend quality time together as a family can sometimes be intimidating.  From time to time on days like that we have a “whatever” dinner.  This is where someone eats leftovers, someone eats cereal, someone has a sandwich, and someone wanders through the cabinets and refrigerator on a culinary scavenger hunt.  That last person is usually me.

Most of the time I put together something quick and easy and on rare occasion, even fairly tasty.  Sometimes I will get in a little over my head and can tell that the vision I had for the meal is falling apart.  That is when I rely on my basic guy instinct and apply a little culinary duct tape.  Bacon.  If something is going south in the kitchen, bacon can usually fix it.  Wrap it in bacon, sprinkle bacon bits on it, or in extreme cases just toss whatever you were making and enjoy a plate of bacon.

Every now and then I have a moment where it all comes together and I don’t even have to rely on the duct tape of food.  A few weeks ago I went to make a sandwich and realized we were out of a very key ingredient.  If I had poured a bowl of cereal and we were out of milk it would have been time to back up and punt because there are no real options there.  On this occasion, however, the peanut butter had already been applied and when  there was no jelly I decided to go for it on 4th and long.  I usually would have just had a peanut butter sandwich and forgone any other ingredients but on this night I was driven by creative inspiration.  What I did next is fairly amazing.  In fact you may want to sit down and buckle up for this because it has the potential to blow your mind and rock the culinary world.   Once I tasted my creation I realized how Edison must have felt or at the very least the guy who invented the Sham-Wow.

PEANUT BUTTER AND RAINBOW SPRINKLES SANDWICH

You are welcome.

Totally Sweet.

Weak

Would you care for a some anxiety with that? 

Is there a more nerve-racking experience in life than being with your significant other in the checkout line at the grocery store and realizing that you forgot something but deciding that there is time for one of you to run and get it before the last item in your cart crosses the scanner?  It is one of the quickest decisions ever made.  The time remaining for the rest of the items to be scanned is quickly estimated and then divided by the estimated time it will take me to find the tin foil and get it back to the register and then in a flash I am off.

When I am at the grocery store with my wife, I am like a passenger in a car.  Although we both arrive at the destination I have no clue how we got there.  I was too busy goofing around and looking out the window.  I know the foil is on an aisle with paper towels and garbage bags and other non-food items but where was it?  I remember seeing it but have no idea where.  The hour-long zig-zag march has disoriented me a bit, I am tired and hungry and know if I waste the time walking by every aisle I will never make it.  I am on the other side of the checkout lines now, back in the sea of cans and boxes and I look back to my wife for some kind of helpful signal.  I need her to hold up a sign that says aisle 12 but instead, the look I get is more of an emotional cocktail, 2 parts frustration, 1 part disdain, and 1 part anxiety.  I try to clear my head and scan the signs hanging from the ceiling.  Somehow an aisle with 1,400 different items is classified by a sign that lists six.

Suddenly as if a ray of light parted the heavens I see the words tin foil on the sign hanging for aisle 10.  I dart in that direction and find the foil.  Luckily it is at the end closest to the checkout lanes.  Unfortunately there are 72 different kinds of foil.  I want to text my wife for her guidance knowing that somehow even for a product as simple as foil I would pick the wrong kind.  I start to scan the different varieties but there is no time.  THERE IS NO TIME!

I grab the roll closest to me and it is as long as my leg.  I am sure I don’t remember having something like this in our house, probably wouldn’t even fit in our cabinet.  I grab the next closest roll and I go!  Feeling like Indiana Jones running from a giant boulder,  I weave my way through the crowded masses holding the foil high in the air.  I make eye contact with my wife for a split second before they roll away and see her folding the receipt and putting it in her purse.

Failure.

I knew that the seconds had been ticking down and I was out of time outs but I considered a Hail Mary and throwing the foil to her across 3 or 4 other checkout lanes.  While that would have been awesome and other husbands would have told of my heroics until it became legend, I restrained.  Instead I walked up to customer service where there was no line, put the foil and a five dollar bill on the counter and was next to my wife bag in hand before she made it to the automatic door.  Work smarter not harder.

Realizing you forgot something while in the checkout line is totally weak.


Free Sample?

Sweet

14 hundred hours, somewhere in metro Atlanta 

How do you know a movie you are watching is going to be good?  Favorite actor?  Good reviews?  Based on a book you liked?  Well for me,there is a litmus test that is tried and true.  Any movie that starts with the sound of a typewriter as courier font populates the screen telling me something like “16:00 hours somewhere in the Indian Ocean” will be a movie I like.   It may be cliché but  the typewriter intro has never let me down and I know when I see it that if all else fails this movie will probably have espionage, a car chase, and at least 3 explosions.  So basically, at bare minimum, not a waste of 2 hours.  I am not saying that all good movies start with the sound of a typewriter, I am saying that any movie that starts with the sound of a typewriter will be a solid investment.  In that same vein, a movie that starts with a montage set to some pop song where you see a person only from the neck down walking in and out of different shops and carrying different bags will probably be something you should just go ahead and stop now and use the next two hours evaluating your decision-making abilities.  To be completely honest, I am a sucker for a good romantic comedy and the great movies that use Christmas as a backdrop are one of my favorite parts of this time of year.  What is your favorite Holiday movie?  (what a cheap way to solicit your comments.)

 

Weak

Now what do I do with this toothpick? 

This past weekend I dined for lunch at a place called the Cajun Cafe.  I ordered “Cajun Chicken” and was then asked if I would like fried rice or Lo mein. What the heck?  You now get one guess on the type of dining establishment I was patronizing.  Correct, a mall food-court.  I am not certain when every place at the food court turned into Mandarin Express but I can tell you why.  The secret, my friend, lies in one small bite of saucy fried chickeny goodness on a toothpick being thrust into your personal space as you walk by.  Who turns down that little guilt free bite of awesome?  It rarely stops me dead in my tracks and causes me to drop everything an order a little styrofoam box of it.  But that sweet and tangy residue will linger on my palate long enough for me to give your eatery some serious consideration when decision time comes.  Inevitably when heaped in a pile into the big section of your to-go container it never has the same wow factor it did when the guy in the silly hat was out in front of the counter peddling his wares to the passer byes.  The thing about the free sample is that it always leaves you wanting more (that and toothpicks are awesome dining utensils).  One tiny piece of delicious chicken is just enough to peak our interest and not so much that we realize how “meh” it really is.  You can try asking for a toothpick and eating your entire meal with it but alas, you cannot capture the magic of a free sample.  Maybe it is a trend but for now, the next time you order a turkey sandwich or a gyro wrap in a food court be ready with your decision on adding an egg-roll for a dollar.  Cajun Cafe Lo mein?  Weak.


I Want to Go to There

Sweet

Christmas Catalogs 

They began sometime in early September, when flip-flops were still the go to option and bathing suits were still hanging on the shower curtain rod.  Yes, I am talking about the Christmas catalogs.  L.L. Bean,Eddie Bauer, Lands End, and all of those other books that show up in your mailbox making you want to put on a sweater, move to a cabin in Vermont, and drink hot cocoa.  I live in Georgia, yet every year I get dangerously close to ordering snow shoes or a mitten ice scraper just because the people in those catalogs look so dang happy.  They appear to live in the land of flannel and Prozac and it looks like a pretty sweet deal to me.  I would estimate that over the last 2.5 months we have received almost an entire tree’s worth of paper one mailbox load at a time.  It is quite a bit to keep up with and our recycling bin needs a breather.   Regardless of whether we order anything or not, they just keep coming and along with them dreams of blissful winter mornings, polar fleece everything, and trees that flow with syrup for your fresh made tower of flapjacks.  While their delivery frequency is overwhelming, and I will never find that much joy in lacing up a pair of duck boots, every now and then, it is nice to let your mind wander to a special place where snow is only for snowmen and flannel lined jeans won’t make you sweat your @#$ off.  Christmas catalogs?  Pretty Sweet.

Weak

The Cleaning Rampage 

I am sure that anyone reading this always keeps their house in perfect order and has never felt the need to straighten up a bit before company shows up.  But if by chance, you and I have more in common than a love of gum and a propensity to forget about garbage day, then you may have taken part in a cleaning rampage.  Or more realistically, a hiding rampage.  For example, ever crammed dirty dishes into a dishwasher full of clean dishes just to get them out of the sink?  Ever hid a laundry basket of clothes in your bathtub?  Ever dust a shelf with your bare hand?  No, just me?  Awkward.

Not that we are ashamed of the way that we live, but there is no need to exhibit a week’s worth of mail piled on the kitchen counter, or so many random shoes lying around it looks like your house had its very own rapture.  Do you really think that raptured bodies will leave their Crocs behind?  Will people who wear Crocs even go in the rapture?  Those are probably questions for a different blog, but you know what I mean.  The cleaning rampage where you gather arm-loads of stuff, dump it into the closet, shut the door and light a candle or two.  I think I am probably so good at hiding Easter eggs because I get practice all year-long finding places to stash random clutter in our house moments before the doorbell rings.  My wife is not a huge fan of this behavior since the answer to 99% of the “where is” questions in our house are answered with “the laundry room.”  Unless the rest of the world really does live inside the pages of the Pottery Barn catalog, I think that I am not alone in the occasional cleaning rampage.  But alas, stashing a stack of mail in your sock drawer, is totally weak.


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