Swindled and Pimped

images

I was driving to Wal-Mart with my eleven year old son on the weekend and, since our closest Wal-Mart is 45 minutes away, we had plenty of time to listen to Macklemore.

I’m a big fan. Of Macklemore. Of my son. Of not paying too much for toilet paper.

It was starting out to be a pretty good day.

“I call that getting swindled and pimped.” Macklemore predicted as we pulled into the parking lot, the hoards of cart pushers reminding me it was Saturday afternoon.

Oh well, we’ve got a list. We’ll be in and out.

“Run!” I told my son (with the sore ankle)  as I dashed for the doors in the pouring rain. He hobbled along behind me unconcerned as usual about the rain or his hair.

“If we each get a basket, we don’t need a cart,” I said.  He talked me into a cart.

Now, if you’re the kind of person who functions even reasonably well under 10,000 watt fluorescent lights, this would be a good time to scroll to another post, read the newspaper, even declutter a few things. You can come back when I start making sense again.

If you’re even slightly sensitive to the lighting in Wal-Mart, it won’t surprise you that I soon found myself in front of a pair of purple leopard print fleece pyjama pants (not on my list) thinking: Wow…Warm..Pretty…

And, if it weren’t for my son falling under the cart he was now riding through women’s wear, I might still be there.

“What just happened?” I asked, “Did that cart just attack you?”

And, it occurred to me to ask, as the cart gymnastics got crazier and crazier and I got angrier and angrier because it was taking us longer and longer to get through our list – what are we really saving here?

“I call that getting tricked by a biz-ness.” Macklemore’s lyrics came back to me as I caught the eye of the woman checking out in front of me.

She looked as pale and wasted as I felt.

Snatching up our three grey bags imprinted with the ironic “Save Money. Live Better” slogan, my eldest and I fled like refugees for the car.

And, as you might have guessed, it gave me an idea for a new category for the blog.

Swindled and Pimped.

As in, how can I avoid feeling that way by changing my purchasing habits to reflect my real values.

I don’t know the answer to that tonight, but I know that so many of you are living it and writing about it that there’s probably a year’s worth of posts just gathering all that information and applying it to my situation.

It’s really nice to be back.

I’ve Moved! (My Blog)

I’ve moved!

Sure I moved cities a few months back, but just as importantly, I’ve moved my blog.

I was waiting until it was ready to invite you over. So, I chose a new theme, had some photos taken, wrote a few posts…but it just isn’t the same without you.

So, come on over!  I’m not even getting started until you get here.

christine things

Less (Botox) Is More

If you’re angry and you know it, start a blog.

I don’t think it’s a secret that I started this blog, at least in part, because I was mad at Squirrel. Finding stash after stash, day after day, month after month, made me want to chew my leg off. You have no idea how much relief sharing that frustration has given me.

Yesterday, I had the misfortune of reading a blog post that purported to give advice to women on how to lead their lives. As I got deeper and deeper into it, once again, I felt tempted to put tooth to leg.

While I feel obligated not to share the advice publicly, suffice it to say that both getting botox and homeschooling are on the author’s must do checklist for female success – along with other useful tips like “start looking for a husband early” and “do a startup with a guy.”

I chewed on that advice all afternoon and all the way to school pick-up where I unloaded on my friend Abbie.

Abbie has a low tolerance for bullshit:

“I don’t know when you’d find the time to get Botox if you’re homeschooling,” she commented.

Yeah, she’s pretty cool.

I think it comes down to this: how do you define success? And, perhaps more subjectively, how do you define beauty?

If you ask me, one expression doesn’t fit all.

Who are your favourite “botox free” female success stories? Here are just a few of mine.

Juliette Binoche

Heidi Klum

Tina Fey

Julianne Moore

Awkward Paws

I was trying to find a way to segue way back into blogging without drawing attention to the white elephant in the room – the fact that I haven’t posted a single word to my blog in two whole months.

Voila!

Min-E the minimalist mouse

This is Min-E. I caught her in the garage of our Whistler town home last night. And something told me she’d be an excellent distraction from that awkward sixty day pause.

See, I bet you’re wondering what kind of rodent infested ski shack I’ve got myself into and not the least bit concerned anymore about my prolonged absence. Good!

As for Min-E, after I got over the shock of finding ricey little poops near the leftover moving boxes, I decided she was a minimalist omen. A poster child for the mantra: Nothing on the floor but the furniture!

Plus, she reminded me why it’s important to shop daily when possible and organize the pantry lest a relative of Min-E take up in the Cheerios box.

I guess you could say that Min-E gave me my minimalism mojo back.

My first goal (after I relocate Min-E of course), will be to get rid of the miscellany that hasn’t made it off the garage floor since the move.

My anxiety got the better of me in the days leading up to the big day and I started making little piles of “just in case” items which I packed up, loaded into the moving truck, unloaded, and left in the garage because there was no “in case.” Is there ever?

I admit, I struggled at first with the fully decorated part of our fully furnished new place:

Clutter-doodle-doo!

Likewise, the fully stocked (stuffed) aspect:

more laundry anyone?

Oh well, the silver lining is that we are a five-minute walk from school, mountain, shopping, skateboard park, swimming pool, and:

Bliss!

And, I’m not about  to let rodent or rooster take away from that.

I’m so glad to be back. Have you encountered any minimalist omens lately?

The Best Baked Plans…

This is why I shouldn’t have any bright ideas in the kitchen:

I was racing around preparing for a showing on Tuesday morning when I realized I’d forgotten breakfast. Seeing Squirrel left one store bought chocolate chip cookie in the cupboard – the light bulb went on over my head. Why not warm it up, killing two birds with one stone – snack for me, warm fuzzy scent for the potential buyer?

But this is me we’re talking about. No sooner had I got the cookie in the oven than I heard someone fire up a serious sounding power washer outside.

No!!! The neighbours are not getting their roof power washed (spraying gutter gunk all over my deck and backyard) today – of all days! I hurtled out the door and launched into interrogation mode:

Me: Are you just doing the driveway?

Power Washer Guy: Yep…oh, and the roof…and the gutters…

Me: Oh, well, we’re trying to sell the house (pointing to very obvious sign) and I have someone coming to see it at 1:15. I know it’s hard, but can you PLEASE try not to spray stuff all over my yard?

Power Washer Guy: No problem. I’ll have it cleaned up by 1pm.

Me: What’s that smell?

!@#$  %^&* !@#$  %^&* !!!

I darted inside to find half my breakfast smoking blackly at me from the bottom of the oven.

Really?

I switched the fan to high and opened all the doors as Power Washer Guy revved his engine sending a mist of debris swirling past my recently washed kitchen windows.

I ate the unburnt half of the cookie anyway, standing over the kitchen sink, feeling sorry for myself.

Just then my realtor called. She told me not to worry about things I can’t control. “If they can’t look past the minor things,” she said, “they’re probably not serious anyway.”

Wise words.

Because on Wednesday the burnt cookie showing had turned into an offer!!! and by Thursday night (after a few rounds of negotiation), we accepted it.

Yippee!!!

I woke up the next morning and looked out the window to see that Power Washer Guy actually did an excellent job of cleaning up after himself, but that a bear had walked right through our back fence knocking out five planks.

Sometimes the things we can’t control end well, sometimes not. I know one thing for sure, that fence repair can wait until I’ve celebrated.

How should I celebrate this untethering from the cleaning cloth? Any suggestions?

Ready To Show – Again!

52 days on the market, 4 open houses, 3 scheduled showings

I think it’s obvious by now that counting is my coping mechanism. Putting a number on the last few weeks has actually cheered me up. I mean, just writing “52 days on the market” presupposes a final day, right? Whether that’s day 53 or day 153 – there will be a final day, right?

As you can imagine, I’ve soured a little on the whole staging thing. My house just looks sterile to me now. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing – in my mind, sterile is a positive in a house you’re about to move into with your family – but not for one you’re actually living in with your family. And, I can’t help but notice how EVERY house I’ve seen on the market lately has had the life staged right out of it. More on that later.

First, let’s get to the business of this post – how I’m keeping my house ready to “show.” I’ve picked up a few little tricks in the past two months.

Meet my micro fibre cloth and lint free tea towel:

Yes, this is a love story. That micro fiber cloth and I are taming the black granite one square foot at a time. I’ve tried many other things, but hot water on that cloth followed by a dry tea towel is THE answer.  Wax on, wax off!

Moving along to my other nemesis – the glass shower stall.

Notice how you can see the reflection in the glass. The spray bottle is a solution of 3/4 water and 1/4 vinegar. After a thorough first clean (see below), I now spray and squeegee the glass after every shower to maintain it. I especially like the professional squeegee move I learned on youtube, though I suppose most professionals aren’t doing it in the nude wearing a towel turban. Mercy!

I try not to use commercial cleaning products when I don’t have to, but I needed some serious help with the tubs and shower stalls on the first go round, so I turned to Scrubbing Bubbles and this:

I can’t believe this wheel brush has been hiding in the garage all my life. It’s genius for cleaning shower walls and tub floors. The pitcher is for thoroughly rinsing the tub and shower and for storing the dripping brush when you’re done.

My final tip  is to hide the “show” towels. I don’t know about you, but piles of clean towels last about 24 hours in my house before they all turn up in a damp pile – whether or not anyone has actually bathed. Here’s the stack I’ve squirrelled away for showings to prevent last minute laundry.

Now, 52 days is a long time to be practicing showmanship. And yes, I’ve grown weary of artfully draping the throws, karate chopping the pillows and planting high brow magazines in not too obvious places. I can’t help but thinking of a comment a reader from Italy made on my last post about home staging.

Apparently, staging is not practiced routinely in Italy. Perhaps the Italians are too busy having a life to obsess over making a living like we do here in North America. I’m generalizing of course, but the goal of home staging is to squeeze every last penny from your abode. And it looks like just about everyone in Vancouver got the memo.

If you browse the real estate listings, one would suspect that no one is actually living in any of the houses for sale in my neighbourhood. We’ve literally staged the life out of them. And, with the number of houses on the market these days, that’s a lot of people forgoing finger painting and fried fish in the name of commerce.

But not so in Italy – these people are clearly off having an espresso unconcerned with their dishes or their parakeet.

And, I think they just might have the right idea. An espresso would taste pretty great right now.

Just for fun: What would turn you off, if it turned up on the counter at an open house?

Dealing With Difficult People

(image source: emdot)

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships, as in when is it OK to end a relationship that is no longer fulfilling.

And, does that change when it’s family?

The other night, my father-in-law told me my butt is flat.

Squirrel told me not to take it personally which struck me as funny because it hadn’t even occurred to me to take it personally. I was too busy trying to figure out how someone drops “your butt is flat” into casual conversation.

He said it so matter-of-factly – as though he was commenting on the weather or the football score.

I tried to remember a time when I gave his butt any thought, but nothing came to me.

I wondered whether there was a deeper message here. Was he reflecting back to me a part of myself I hadn’t completely accepted?

Then, I remembered a quote I once read – the only quote on dealing with difficult people that ever made sense to me:

I am thankful for the difficult people in my life.  They have shown me exactly who I don’t want to be.

-unknown

So, I’ve taken his comment as a sign of sorts, to let go of judgement and vanity and focus on creating a fuller, rounder, more pert inner life.

He probably won’t notice that at the next family gathering, but at least I’ll have something to be thankful for.

How do you deal with difficult relationships?