Black Friday, Blank Calendars and Multicolored Fashion Statements

Black Friday, Blank Calendars and Multicolored Fashion Statements

So I survived my first retail Black Friday weekend… and I actually feel a bit jipped. After all that extra headache and so many hours of lost sleep, I feel like I should have some awesomely blog-worthy stores to share about crazy customers and unbelievable crowds and fist fights over the GoPros…. but I don’t. Which I suppose is a good thing, since that means we didn’t have anybody trampled in a front door stampede, but at the same time, there could have at least been raised voices around the door-buster televisions. Something. Anything! I only got four hours of sleep for this!

But it’s over and I no longer work at the undisclosed location (whose mascot is a little white dog with a red bullseye on his face named Spot… in case that tells you anything). My three-week employment there was profitable, but I’m glad for it to be over and to be preparing for our pilgrimage back to the motherland later this week. Luckily for us, the majority of our belongings are still packed from when we left Martin the first time, so there is relatively little for me to do before the U-Haul truck arrives. We’ve gathered a few bits of furniture from various places but are still short a dresser or chest-of-drawers and any bookcases or other storage units. So if you or someone you know is selling (or giving away) furniture, please let us know and we might be able to take some of it off your hands.

I start my new job in a week and a half and I couldn’t be more excited. I am already dreaming about a giant 2015 desk calendar and color-coded office schedules. (I’m an office-supply geek to the core.)

In the meantime, however, I have been working with my mom to put some of her creations under The Chesnut Tree. She makes beautiful scarves, which are now available in my Etsy store and waiting to be put under your Christmas tree for those family members who love to make a fashion statement. There are two varieties: fabric ruffle and sashay ruffle.

fabric ruffle scarf

Fabric Ruffle in “white cheetah”

pink dot ruffle

Close-up view of the ruffled edge in “pink dot”

The fabric ruffle options are available in solid fabrics and lacy fabrics to create different overall looks.

Solid pattern options

Solid pattern options

Lacey color options for a more delicate look

Lacey color options for a more delicate look

The sashay ruffle has a more spiraled appearance and, in my opinion, a fuller final outcome.

Sashay ruffle scarf in "conga"

Sashay ruffle scarf in “conga”

Close-up view of a sashay ruffle in "conga"

Close-up view of a sashay ruffle in “conga”

These are available in dozens of colors, including solid neons, multicolored, sparkles, metallics and special fabrics.

multicolored options

multicolored options

neons and special fabric options

neons and special fabric options

sparkle and metallic color options

sparkle and metallic color options

Visit The Chesnut Tree and see which ones might look good under your tree. “Regular” length can be wrapped around the neck 1-2 times and is $11.99, and “long” length can be wrapped 3-4 times and is $14.99. Shipping is $7.50 per box. Order by December 10 to receive your order by Christmas.

Where in the world is…. anything?

Ok. So I have realized something very important since we’ve been home. I don’t know where any of our stuff is!!

When we moved out of our apartment in Martin, we brought an entire U-Haul truck back to Spring Hill and unloaded it into my in-laws’ utility room and outdoor shed. I know those things, logically, are all still there, yet I look at the piles and somehow I don’t see a whole U-Haul’s worth of stuff. (Although I’m sure my in-laws would disagree with that statement, haha.)

For example, the Mister and I have a small amount of winter clothing stored in easily-accessible places because we knew we would be coming back for Christmas breaks and would need warm clothes. However, I know there are things that I own – fuzzy pajama pants, warm tights, a large collection of sweaters – that are nowhere to be found. I remember packing them into a box, but that box seems to have vanished completely. Well, that or it’s buried behind the mountain of other boxes currently living on top of our dining room table in their utility room…. which means I’m in for a major excavation expedition before winter officially arrives.

I also know there are boxes out in the shed full of our things, but I can only think of two boxes that we actually put out there. The others are complete mysteries to me. I know we didn’t put clothing or books or other perishable things out in the shed, but I can’t think of what else we would have owned at the time that could have been moved out there. Moving into our own place will be like Easter and Christmas and a hundred birthdays all at once.

Which brings me to something else I’ve learned in the past week: things disappear when you unpack them. The Mister and I struggled and screamed and cried to fit our lives into five checked bags and four carry-ons to limp back home to the States, but then once I started unpacking and fitting things into drawers and closets….. it’s all gone. Somehow. Somewhere. You would have thought this house was filled to capacity with everything my in-laws’ own as well as most of what we own already in it, but somehow we managed to squirrel away another house’s worth of belongings. It’s like Hermione’s magic bag in Harry Potter 7, and if we squeezed this house like a lemon it would probably squish stuff out of every vent and window for weeks. When the Mister and I finally move all our stuff into our own place and have everything we own all in one house again, this property will probably weigh half of what it does now. I’m just hoping the house doesn’t start sinking into the earth under all this extra weight.

We are incredibly grateful for a place to stay and store our things and a yard for Meera to run in. I don’t have the faintest idea what we would have done without such accommodating family. I just have to figure out where everything is before we freeze to death. Haha! Island tank tops and shorts are definitely not cohesive to the dropping October temperatures (or to my mother-in-law’s house, which is always cold).

In other news, I’m told there are only 11 weeks until Christmas, which means holiday music (not played on steel drums) will arrive soon and I’ve definitely got to get a jump on Christmas presents or I’m never going to make it!

Happy Monday to all.

/the missus

Top Ten Thursday – 10 Things to Bring With You to Ross

1. Bring basic kitchen tools with you in your luggage. I brought measuring cups and spoons, a good paring knife, a meat thermometer, a good spatula and a can opener. (We fit them into the small pockets and lining of our garment bag suitcase.) Those I would definitely recommend, as well as some food storage containers, if you can fit them, and a few basic spices. I also wish I’d brought a mixing bowl, a whisk, kitchen tongs and a vegetable peeler. Yes, the kitchens here (in the dorms especially; the off campus apartments are better) are stocked with cookware and small appliances, but it’s only basic basic items. You’ll be amazed the things you never think about that you suddenly don’t have access to and really wish you did.

2. Bring as many towels (all types) as you can fit in your luggage. You can buy them here if you want, and that’s fine, but either way be prepared to go through a large number of towels. Things in the dorms never get completely dry – or at least in our room they don’t. It’s all the humidity and the lack of a good ventilation system. I wash towels constantly because everything gets that musty, wet-dog smell after 3-4 days.

3. Which reminds me, bring laundry detergent. I brought a gallon-sized ziplock bag of those little Tide detergent pods. They’re wonderful! No bottle to pack and worry about leaking; no bottle to lug around; I just toss one in from my little baggie and we’re done! If you do laundry on campus they are card-operated machines and the washers and dryers are BOTH $8EC a load (so $16EC total). HOWEVER, you can save $8EC by splitting the dry cycle. The dryers automatically give you about 75 minutes of drying time, and there is no way to decrease that. No load of laundry really needs 75 minutes in the dryer; our clothes are always done in 30. So always try to wash two loads one right after the other, since the washers take 30 minutes, so then you can use one dry cycle for two wash cycles. That $8EC adds up over time!

4. Bring supplies for whatever craft/hobby you have (if you’re a VIP). I finally found a few balls of yarn to buy off a professor who’s moving, and I was so happy to finally have something to do with my hands during the long hours of watching television or waiting for dinner to cook. (Thankfully I was smart enough to have brought my crochet hooks.)

5. Bring extra toiletries of all types. Pack as many bottles of soap, tubes of toothpaste, bottles of contact solution, cans of bug spray, etc. as you can fit in your luggage. You’ll be glad you did.

6. Bring sunscreen in various SPF numbers. I personally really like the spray-on kind because it’s quick, easy and not greasy at all (we have the CVS brand), but it does run out pretty quickly. The lotion is fine too if you prefer that. Something is different about the atmospheric protection here, and even people who’ve never burned in their lives wake up like lobsters the morning after the beach.

7. Bring sheets and pillows. The dorms have full-sized beds, but US full-size sheets will not fit them properly. If you can, try to shrink them some before you come, and if you have room, bring more than one set. The dorms also come with pillows, but they are the super flat, super tiny almost travel-type pillows that are 30 years old. The Mister and I fit three of them into one of our pillow cases before we finally found a store here (TDC Hardware – $60EC each) that sells better pillows. I know it’s hard to pack pillows, but use them as your comfort carry-on or put them in vacuum-seal bags. You’ll miss them if you don’t.

8. Bring decorative items (with command hooks and strips). You’re so far from home, even just a few familiar items will make your place feel more comfortable.

9. If you have space, absolutely bring non-perishable food items – especially things you eat all the time. Have a favorite brand or flavor of coffee? A favorite gum or not-melty candy? A favorite type of soup? Bring them. Even bringing basic things like peanut butter, popcorn, crackers and noodles will save you money at the grocery store.

10. Bring movies or TV shows on DVD. VIPs will want these distractions and students have to take breaks every now and then. Netflix and/or Hulu subscriptions are great, get them if you can, but be warned that they don’t work the same way outside the US. We can get many of the things we would have watched at home, but they come with Spanish subtitles, and some movies/shows aren’t available here at all. It has to do with where your IP address is coming from (in our case, Puerto Rico – aka, Spanish movies).

**I’m adding #11 after the fact because I just glanced around our room and thought of it – bring surge protectors. We currently have two and that seems to be a good number for us – but they are both almost full. You are not allowed to have octopus or other multi-outlets. Only surge protectors with switches. Also, bring a wireless router, if you’re lucky enough to have one. Students don’t need this so much, but VIPs, who only have ethernet access to the internet (oh yeah, bring an ethernet cord too), will appreciate it.

*DISCLAIMER: I know this is all overwhelming. Before we moved, I would read the school’s “official list of things to bring” and then read blog posts of students saying things to bring and then read the baggage weight limits for our airline and think, “HOW IN THE WORLD AM I SUPPOSED TO PACK ALL THOSE THINGS???” Trust me, we know. A good rule of thumb is: if you use it on a daily basis or use it for class, if it makes you feel comfortable in your own home, or if it helps you keep your sanity, bring a supply. Paying the costs for an extra bag or an overweight bag will be worth it in the long run if it lets you take those things that will keep you from crying every day or murdering a rude cashier who doesn’t know if the island stocks SweetTarts. (FYI – I don’t think it does.)

The Nut House has a Sale

I think I’ve broken my record for how many times I can question my sanity in one weekend.

Let’s review the footage, shall we?

Friday: The Mister and my mother in law help me take a folding table and our extra furniture out to the parking lot outside our apartment building at 6:30 a.m. for my very first yard sale. Doubt #1: It’s 6:30 a.m. Doubt #2: I’m sitting outside in the darkness shivering in four layers of clothing hoping somebody will happen to drive through the parking lot and buy some junk. (Did I say junk? I mean highly useful miscellaneous items.)

Our first customers arrived at approximately 6:45 a.m., while we were still setting up the table. Both complained loudly about our “poor choice” of having the sale outside while it was cold. I barely kept myself from gesturing rudely to the tiny apartment buildings behind me and asking where in the world they thought I was going to have it? Doubt #3: I wanted to interact with crazy old yard-sale-type ladies???

I also discovered that it is very demoralizing to be sitting beside a table of … miscellaneous items … and have old ladies, who OBVIOUSLY do not live in a student apartment complex, drive slowly by, peering out the window at your wares while you shiver and silently beg them to purchase something… and then drive on without stopping. It’s like standing up at auction just to hear crickets chirp as the auctioneer begs for a starting bid. Doubts #4, 5, 6, 7 and 8: We (my MIL and I) are going to sit in this parking lot all day long like complete idiots and nobody is going to buy a single thing. I’m going to have to cart all this furniture back to middle Tennessee. Nobody loves me; I am a failure; all is lost.

Our second customers didn’t arrive until 9 a.m. We made three dollars. Doubt #9: We’ve been sitting out here for two hours staring at a pitiful little table of ju- I mean, miscellaneous items, for three dollars. I would have made more than that going to work this morning.

I did have to deal with a couple at one point that seemed intent on trying to buy our entire apartment for about $20. I took them inside to look at our large area rugs (it was too muddy to pull them out from under the furniture and take them outside), and instead of offering a good price on the rugs, they wanted to make offers on everything else in the house. Even when I told them everything else had been sold. Even when they refused to offer more than $20 (total) for anything. And then they insisted that they wanted to buy the Mister’s flat screen television, and I really wanted to ask, “Look lady, if you won’t part with more than $20, what do you think I’m going to ask for that television!?” Doubt #10: Why do I have these people in my house????

But I am glad to say that the traffic did eventually pick up as the sun burned off the fog and it started to warm up, and by the end of the day we had sold all the furniture and a large portion of the smaller items. Doubt #11: What was I thinking?! Of course a yard sale was a good idea! Of course I know how to advertise events! I am awesome!

Saturday: We set up the table around 8 a.m. this time, since we didn’t want a repeat of the previous morning and because we didn’t have much left to begin with. Which, of course, only made for an even more pitiful scene as the MIL, the Mister and I again sat beside the table (this time with an even smaller assortment of miscellaneous items) and waited for customers. Doubt #12: Why are we out here? We look pathetic.

A family did stop at one point, with the parents asking in broken English where was our furniture for sale. When I explained that everything had been sold the day before, they only continued to ask about beds, dressers, couches and bookshelves. I, again, said everything had been sold. They asked if we were having a moving sale, and what kind of moving sale doesn’t have furniture. I, again, explained. This went on for another 10 or so minutes before they finally drove off disgusted. Doubt #13: What kind of clientele am I attracting to this sale? If you wanted to buy furniture that badly, why did you wait until noon on the second day to come by?

We made about $16 dollars in four hours, and most of that came from our last two customers. Doubt #14: Why did I want to have a yard sale? Nobody is going to stop. I wouldn’t stop. This was a stupid idea.

After chasing several items across the parking lot as the wind picked up, the Mister and I surveyed the ghost town around us and decided to pack the table up and call it a day. The Goodwill pile went into the trunk of my car, while the “see if Mom can sell it at home” pile went into the “random stuff to take back to Mom” box. Doubt #15: Is anybody in Murfreesboro going to buy an expensive pair of name-brand cowboy boots? Murfreesboro isn’t really a cowboy boots kind of market.

I sold four pieces of furniture last week to a young woman over the phone, and I had been texting her all weekend begging that she come by to pay a partial amount and claim the items before I sold them to someone else. She didn’t come and didn’t come and didn’t come. Doubt #16: Why did I ever think it was a good idea to sell stuff over the phone? She is not coming for this stuff. What was I thinking?

We did, ironically, have a few people knock on our door hours after we brought the table in, so we might have made a few more dollars if we’d waited in the breeze, but oh well. If they wanted to buy things that badly, they should have been there earlier. (The unknown young lady’s mother did eventually come by late Saturday afternoon to make a claim deposit on her furniture, thank goodness.) Doubt #17: Why do I have so little faith in humanity?

Sunday: The Mister and I had just gotten my MIL on the road and settled in for a much-needed nap, when we both sat straight up in bed, listening intently. The ice cream man was coming! We scrambled out of bed and into the first clothes we could find on the floor. I actually ran out the front door putting my glasses on with one hand and zipping up my pants with the other. We NEVER catch the ice cream man!

We got outside and lost the music, but we knew he hadn’t been loud enough to have passed by our building yet. Finally we heard a jingling Yankee Doodle, loud and clear, from a neighborhood across the road. Hooray! We staked out seats on a light pole directly across from the entrance. There is no other way out of that neighborhood. We knew we’d caught him now!

We waited. And waited. And waited some more. He never came out. So finally we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and take a walk across the street to find our prey. About halfway into the neighborhood (which forms a small loop, and we were on the side he would have had to exit), we heard the music again, this time inexplicably coming from the direction of the main road. So of course we took off running like crazy people. But alas, we never found the ice cream man. It was probably the greatest disappointment of the entire weekend. Doubt #18: Why are we running around Martin in an odd assortment of clothing with nothing but our door keys and $20, chasing phantom music like deranged people? It was probably a really loud child’s toy.

Monday (today): I got all the way to the lobby of my office building this morning before I realized my favorite boots were making two different sounds as I walked and one ankle was hurting. ONE HEEL WAS AN INCH SHORTER THAN THE OTHER!!! Doubt #19: That hasn’t always been like that, has it? I am surely more observant than that! Doubt #20: I have completely, totally, undoubtedly, irreversibly lost my mind.