Merry Christmas

Still taking a blogging break, but Greta wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

Tis the Season for Shopping

Black Friday is upon us, and the insanity surrounding it gets crazier and crazier every year. I’ve been seeing a lot of back and forth on Facebook about the morality of shopping on Black Friday, whether retail workers have a right to complain about it, and those who have it worse than you do. I get that it’s a busy shopping day because Thanksgiving is over, there’s still a long weekend, and people are realizing that shopping days til Christmas are numbered. BUT, I also think that stores should stick to their regular shopping hours during this season, stay closed on Thanksgiving, and not run sales that tempt people to risk their lives just to save a few dollars.

With that said, I thought I’d share my tips for shopping on Black Friday. There’s something about Black Friday at the mall that really does help me get into the holiday spirit – the music, the decorations, and finding that perfect gift. I actually do go to the mall every year, and I still manage to get plenty of sleep and not lose my mind. Want to know how I do it?

I don’t care about sales – That’s right, you heard me. This is probably the most important thing to remember if you want to save your sanity this shopping season. Pretty much everything is on sale anyway, so I don’t really care about getting the absolute lowest price.

Also, ignore the loss leaders. You know those ridiculously low priced items that are only available at some ungodly hour? That you have to skip Thanksgiving dinner to wait in line for? That $35, 60-inch TV? Those are the loss leaders, and their only purpose is to get you to go crazy and shop in that particular store. Don’t fall for it. The quality of these items is generally not the best, so let someone else have them. Your sanity is worth so much more.

I don’t have a list – I generally have NO IDEA what I want to get people before I see it on a store shelf. If I do have ideas, they’re more general than specific. This way I keep my shopping list flexible so I don’t wear myself down looking for something that won’t be back in stock until after the holidays. I’m free to wander about, browsing in all the stores until something piques my interest.

In the unlikely event that I am looking for something super-specific, I buy it from the internet. It’s so much easier to comparison shop and look at every store to see if it’s available when I don’t have to leave the house.

I wait until the afternoon – With crazy deals starting Thanksgiving evening, midnight, or crazy hours like 3am, I know that those are the times I DON’T want to be out in the stores. I wait until mid to late afternoon on Black Friday, then hit the mall. By then, all the die-hard deal seekers have worn themselves out so it’s easier to get a parking space. Plus, the early shift staff has gone home and there are fresh faces behind the counters who aren’t sick of people yet. Not only that, all the stores are typically open on Friday afternoons, so I don’t feel guilty ruining someone’s holiday by shopping outside of their normal operating hours.

Mind your manners – I think it goes without saying that you should do this no matter what time of year you go shopping, but be nice to the store staff, the other shoppers, and everyone you meet. Remember to say please and thank you, and SMILE! Old-fashioned pleasantries are sadly not used enough these days. A simple smile and “thank you” is a guaranteed way to make a retail clerk’s day.

A Pinterest Valentine Story

Mister and I are still in the midst of packing so that we can move to New Hampshire.

Source: via KirstenL4W on Pinterest

We didn’t go all out this year, because we’re busy and because we don’t want to get each other something only to shove it in a box and not see it for weeks. If we did get stuff, you can be sure that there would be something heart-shaped in there.

Source: via KirstenL4W on Pinterest

There would probably be flowers.

Source: via KirstenL4W on Pinterest

If we weren’t trying to eat healthy, and sick of junk food because we’re slacking so bad, there’d be chocolate.

Source: via KirstenL4W on Pinterest

Instead, we’ll spend the day with each other. And of course there will be someone else there with us.

Source: via KirstenL4W on Pinterest

And we will remember to tell each other how much we love each other.

Source: via KirstenL4W on Pinterest

Happy Valentine’s Day to my fabulous Mister.

Christmas Loot

Christmas was pretty decent. Mister and I stayed home, just the two of us. Actually, when you include Greta it was just the three of us.

We started the day by watching A Christmas Story – on DVD so there weren’t any of those pesky commercials. We started with our stockings, as was always the tradition when I was growing up. Greta got a nice rawhide bone that she immediately disappeared upstairs with, though we heard some rather obscene noises coming from upstairs.

After stockings, we moved on to the loot under the tree. Here’s what we ended up with:

Since we’re moving to New Hampshire soon, and I’ve been living in the hot dry desert for the past 8 1/2 years, I needed some winter gear. I got it in the form of quality goods from LL Bean (LL Bean has no idea who I am and I was not paid to say that. I just love their stuff.) I got a winter coat and boots, both of which will come in really handy back there. I also got a new cell phone, which I really needed since mine won’t recognize the SD card – which means it won’t take pictures and I can’t have as many apps on it as I would like. I got it all charged up and will visit the cell phone store tomorrow so they can transfer my stuff. Some knee socks (to wear with my boots), chocolate covered cherries, a “K” ornament and a few other goodies rounded out my haul. I hung the ornament over my desk, which is my “K” wall since I have a few other initial items there.

Mister got an electric shaver for his head and face, since he mentioned that he wouldn’t mind at all if Santa brought one of those. He also got a BBQ lighter in the shape of a rifle, some nice leather gloves that actually fit his huge hands, a little talking Darth Vader plush, a CPU cart, whoopie cushion, cinnamon flavored old-fashioned candy cane, and a bunch of stocking stuffers that he wanted and a few that he never knew he wanted until he got them.

The best quote of the day came from Mister. As he was digging into his stocking, he exclaimed, “I love my wife – she buys the best presents!” You do some pretty good shopping yourself, my dear!

Greta was a bit confused at all the excitement and stuff in our living room, but once she received the previously mentioned rawhide, decided that she likes Christmas and wants it to happen every day. She also received a new harness and leash set that makes her a bit more visible than her old one. (Note: dog in photo above is not Greta.) Since Greta has black fur, and the road is black, and the dark is black, I was worried about people seeing her when we go out walking at night, so I decided that I wanted some reflective gear for her. This set is pink and the bones and paws print on it is the reflective part. Greta was excited and had to try them out right away, so I put on my new boots and coat, Greta put on her new harness and leash, and we went for a short walk.

The rest of the day was spent watching holiday movies, cooking and eating ham, and napping. Relatives were called, and we expressed how much we are looking forward to seeing them soon and spending next Christmas with them. Overall, it was a pretty good holiday, but the best part of all was getting to spend it with Mister and the pup.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

The Great Christmas Post of 2011

I just realized that I didn’t do a Christmas Post last year like I did in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. I’m not going to recap two years, so here’s the scoop for 2011.

Mister and I started the year getting to know our new dog a bit better and dealing with her as she got used to us. In February, my mom came for a visit and made my dog howl. My blog turned five years old and I continue to try to learn as much about the back end stuff that I can.

It wasn’t the greatest year as far as money matters are concerned. Due to Mister’s ongoing (still!) worker’s comp case, we listed our house for short sale. The realtor we hired didn’t do his job as far as submitting the listing agreement and other information to the bank, so when we applied for a deed in lieu, after the house had been listed for a specified amount of time per our mediation agreement, we found out that the house was back in the foreclosure since the bank assumed we didn’t keep our end of the agreement. More stress, attorney fees, and even more stress ensued. The locks were changed one afternoon while Mister was out, and he was able to thwart another attempt to have the locks changed. Because of this, Thanksgiving and Christmas are being spent at home instead of with family members in other cities. We don’t feel comfortable leaving the house for an extended amount of time.

But, we were able to hire another realtor who actually knows how to do her job, have submitted all the required paperwork to the bank, and are waiting to hear back from them if they will accept the listing and if they will postpone the scheduled trustee sale. We’d still like to manage the situation on our terms as much as possible.

Ok, enough of the depressing stuff. There’s more good stuff from 2011!

I needed a new computer, and ended up with my beautiful iMac. We celebrated an entire year of having Greta, who continues to make us smile when she does pretty much anything. I took a vacation to Florida to visit my sister and celebrate my niece’s 5th birthday, and it was really awesome to see how much Mia has grown. When I got home from my vacation, Mister and I started eating paleo-style, and even though it’s a struggle during the holidays, we’ve already noticed some benefits.

The biggest news of the year is the announcement that Mister and I are moving to my home state of New Hampshire. We miss the seasons, my family and friends, and all the opportunities that New England can offer us. We plan on moving in February, so keep watching my blog for updates!

That’s all the news for now. Merry Christmas, and here’s hoping 2012 is a great year for everyone!