Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category
Saturday afternoon, after lounging around ever so slightly hung-over, Mike and I began a mission. Well, first we went to the grocery store. But then we began a mission. A mission to replace our dead, defunct, and defenestrated (okay, I didn’t actually throw it out of a window, but I did throw it away!) vacuum cleaner.
We began our mission with some research. Mike googled the internet for “the knowledge.” I peered over his shoulder and read as fast as I could (not fast enough), while he looked at consumer magazine reports, websites that compare consumer magazine reports, and magazine websites. We followed links to Hoover’s website, to Bissell’s website, and to Dyson’s website.
As a note of interest, I hate spending money. My dad raised me to be miserly. So the idea of spending several hundred dollars on a vacuum cleaner makes me feel icky. I was consciously and subconsciously trying not to like the expensive looking models.
A couple sites recommended a Bissell model. Our old vacuum was Bissell, but it was admittedly not the best model they had. The recommended one had a detachable portable thing that you could use like a canister vac. It seemed cool, but Mike’s scrutinizing eye had him worried that the same design was used for the filters.
I suppose it is of interest how our old vacuum broke. The filter-ma-jig had a tendency to fall out when you opened the dirt compartment. This could be not so bad, but it actually made it difficult to put the dirt compartment back in. Finally, Mike had a big fight with it, and we gave up hope. Plus, and I hated to admit that I was saying this, it lost suction.
We watched little movies about the Bissell and Dyson vacuums, and tried to decipher the differences between models. We then ventured outside to the windy night. It was pretty late by this point, and we hadn’t had dinner, but we had eaten a snack around 4:00, so the plan was to hit up Best Buy first, then get dinner.
Best Buy is Mike’s personal Mecca. He walked in the store, eyes wide, and started wandering off towards the TVs, DVDs, computers, video games, and other toys. I reined him in, pointing to the giant “Appliances” sign over to the left – over to the side of the store Mike might not even know exists.
We got temporarily distracted by the giant refrigerators. There was a ridiculous one with four doors that caught our attention. The freezer was set to -2 degrees… Fahrenheit. Intense, but useless to us, as we are lowly renters.
Back to the mission! Right on the end cap of an aisle, the bright yellow and bright purple Dyson models glowed, beckoning us. You couldn’t miss their bright colors and peculiar angles. But we turned the corner to go down the aisle. I was still convinced that I could get past the hype.
We found the highly rated Bissell model, with detachable canister vac, but our hopes were instantly dashed. The filter system looked identical to our defunct model. Literally. It was broken in the same way.
With Bissell out of the picture, we took a look at some Hoover models. They looked okay, but had no spiffy features, like the Bissell and Dyson models did. It was too late. Our minds were made up before we even began.
We were at Best Buy to purchase a Dyson.
We poked around the models they had, trying to figure out the differences between the brightly colored devices. The DC-07 models were supposedly stronger, but their extending wand tool was bizarre and impossible to operate. The DC-14 had simpler features. We had no interest in the Ball models; we had heard that they don’t suck.
We stood there for quite a while debating the differences between the standard yellow model, the “pets” purple model, and the “all-access” blue and orange model. We finally decided that we were all about all-access.
Decision made, I told Mike we could explore the rest of his playground. We looked at TVs, stereos, speakers, and video games. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t interested. I like gadgets too, even if I don’t love them the way Mike does.
After the store tour, we went back to bring our Dyson up to the register. In another fit of ingenuity, the box hand a handle placed on the side. Not in the middle of the side, but actually placed at the point that was balanced. We brought our new toy out to the car, and traipsed on over to the Olive Garden for a tasty dinner.
As soon as we got home from dinner (at this point, it was pretty darn late – we had to wait quite a while for our table), Mike put the shiny blue and orange parts together into a vacuum cleaner. We couldn’t use it yet, but the next day, I excitedly vacuumed the stairs (who have been developing dust-bunnies at an alarming rate), the crevasses in the front hallway, and all of the damn cobwebs in the living room. I killed them spider webs! BUA-HA-HA-HA! I like that extending wand. Mike experienced the magical suction of the upright vacuum features.
I can now say from experience, the Dyson is a good vacuum. And I’m not afraid to say it. Because it is true. And because I have come to terms with my yuppiness. I drive a Jetta with a sunroof, we watch HDTV, we have multiple TiVos, we have a ridiculous all-in-one remote, we go out to eat every weekend, we are not old, we are â€œprofessionals,â€ and we now own a Dyson. It is our way. It is the way of the yuppie. Please forgive us.
Okay, seriously, the month of December cannot possibly be “reality.” I don’t know what I was thinking. This past weekend was full of Christmas fairs and Christmas trees, and I’m still tired today. But that’s more for another time. How about that Thanksgiving story!
I had never been in a Kohl’s store before, so I did not know what to expect. Actually, I did have some expectations, mostly revolving around “yet another Target,” but they were proven wrong. Kohl’s is apparently much more like a J.C.Penny’s on steroids.
The place was massive. We were greeted at the door by festive sweaters and pink pantsuits. I think Kate almost bought the pink pantsuit. She loves pink. Kate and I wandered off and quickly lost her mom. I found exactly what I wanted to get for someone on my list and was ecstatic to find that it was on sale. We got sidetracked by the shoe department, but escaped without spending any extra money.
Halfway around the store, we found Kate’s mom again, in the flatware department. Other things were selected, carts were filled up, and we headed for the front of the store to check out. Kate’s mom said that when she went through there, the line had been absolutely disgusting, but when we arrived, we were first in line! By the time all three of us had rung up, however, the line was reaching further than I could see around the piles of future presents. Such great timing! Kohl’s was by far the best shopping experience (though the best deals were at Bob’s).
After cramming yet more bags into the back of the Pacifica, we finally left that shopping center to go across the street to Target (pronounced “Tar-jay,” for you classless types :-D). Just like a good mom should do, Kate’s mom reminded us that we probably had to pee. Conveniently, Target has a bathroom right when you walk in. Newly invigorated, we headed into our last stop for the day.
We breezed past the first half of the store, and I grabbed one small present on our way over to the Christmas section. We split up, looking for an artificial tree for Mike and Kate’s mom and dad. We arrived at a “frosted” 8 foot model, and as the clerk was helping us get a box down from a high up shelf, we discovered that once again, our cart was missing! This time, however, my small present was not to be found on any adjacent shelf. We were not pleased.
A new cart was found, and we crammed the box-o-tree into the main box. The child seat area was soon filled with ornaments and other bits and bobs, and I found yet another perfect gift for someone on my list. After I went running off to replace my purloined small present, we met up again in the middle of the store, when Kate and her mom had just picked out a replacement mirror for our hosts.
It was here that a strange man with a goatee said, “Diane!” I blinked a few times, trying to remember who he was, and he turned and yelled out, “Jill, come here!” OH! It was John, Jillian’s husband. Last time I saw him, he was beardless, and I was very confused by the transformation. Hugs, greetings, and goodbyes all happened too quickly, and we were suddenly checking out and slip sliding across the icy parking lot. For some reason, I was holding the mirror. I did not drop it.
It took some severe reorganization to get the tree, mirror, and newly purchased bags into the car. I was surrounded by bags in the back seat, and I think Kate had a bag in her lap up front. We were done.
Mike called to ask where we were, and we let him and the other boys know we would be back soon. Within an hour, we were packing up our stuff, hugging, and saying goodbye, all too quickly. Due to the proliferation of stuff in both cars, we ended up splitting up the girls and boys for the ride back to Massachusetts. Due to our respective hunger, we ended up driving straight to the Chinese restaurant. I don’t know what the boys were playing in their car, but our vehicle’s speakers were singing Christmas carols with us all the way down 495.
Thankfully, I was talked out of ordering three “gooey” (I don’t know where the hell that came from, but that’s what Mike’s whole family calls stir fry dishes) items, after we had already picked out some fried rice and the pu-pu platter. We didn’t even finish all that among the five of us. My excuse is that I’ve never in my life gotten a pu-pu platter. There’s fire involved!
After eating too much for the third day in a row (my stomach and associated digestive system was by this point screaming bloody murder), we went back to our various apartments to sleep. And sleep we did.
I snapped awake at 8:30 again, and went to baking up some breakfast. I made banana bread. I made little cranberry muffins. I made huge blueberry muffins. And I waited patiently for everyone else to wake up. Mike’s mom was up shortly after me, and joined me in watching some TiVoed food network programming while we waited. After Mike woke up, we watched some Iron Chef America (the asparagus episode – seriously? tongue? gross!). When Morimoto clenched his victory, I finally caved to my hunger and ate some muffins. Kate and her dad arrived shortly after.
We spent the new few hours eating quick bread, lounging around, planning for the day’s craziness, and waiting for the arrival of my family…
Okay, I have to stop lying to myself. While the rain did put a damper on the sun in the first half of the week, I can’t blame it for my sunless mornings. We have officially passed the boundary where the sun doesn’t really come out until I’m leaving for work. As the solstice nears, I might even be so “lucky” as to see the sunrise from the parking lot at work. Never my desk though. I have no windows. Windows are for business people. Engineers get equipment instead of windows. I’ve got lots of equipment!
On Friday morning, I had two pieces of leftover cranappear pie. It has fruit in it. That counts as breakfast. Whatever!
Mike’s mother and sister arrived shortly, and after saying goodbye to the boys and making a valiant effort to get Mike’s aunt’s phone number into Kate’s phone, we were on our way! Kate’s mom drove her dad’s Pacifica, which is a rather large vehicle. Why do I mention that? You can probably guess, even at this early stage of the game.
We drove along for a half hour or so to a major shopping area in southern New Hampshire (I really, really, really wanted to use bovine text there, but I promised to stop that…). Along the way, we talked about various stuff and sang along with the Christmas carols playing on the radio. We were soon pulling up to Kate’s Mecca – the Christmas Tree Shoppes.
Saying that the parking lot was crowded would be the understatement of the century. There were cars and carts everywhere. It looked like a very neat tornado had come through dropping off cars from all over the Midwest. Of course, they really weren’t from the Midwest – the license plates were mostly New Hampshire blue, Vermont green, and Massachusetts white. As is so often the case these days, SUVs and minivans predominated, and our vehicle was no exception.
We excitedly walked three miles (okay, maybe 1/5 of a mile) to the entrance, and Kate selected us a cart. We weren’t even three feet into the store when Kate had found something that she just had to have. I honestly don’t remember what it was, but she really wanted it. Later, that want was taken over by something else, then something else, and finally a ten-inch tall white Christmas tree complete with tiny candy-striped glass ornaments – that one she bought. Kate loves Christmas. She loves it a lot.
When we finally escaped the entrance, we started taking in the deals. Tree skirts, long skinny door pillows to block out the winter cold, cutting boards, Christmas cards, wrapping paper, and some presents. I’m not telling! I got really excited about a huge bag of bows. I love fancy wrapping paper and fancy bows. Wrapping Christmas gifts is one of my favorite things to do.
While we were on a scouting mission in the kitchen gadget department, something horrible happened. We had left our cart, which had 7 or 8 things in it already, on the end of an aisle that was too full of people to maneuver through with wheels. We were returning with arms full of cutting boards and plastic cookie jars, and Kate’s mom goes, “Where’s our cart?”
I am always quick to respond; it’s probably one of my worst qualities. So, I quickly answered, “Right here! Wait. Maybe it’s up one row. No. Did we pass it?” Then Kate found a not-so-neat pile of stuff that looked awfully familiar. As in, it was our stuff! Some mean-hearted person had stolen our cart (so not in the spirit of the season) and just dumped our stuff on the shelf. I heaved a sign and ran off to the front of the store to get a new cart, as my arms were the least full of stuff. We kept a closer eye on our cart as we selected our Christmas cards and wrapping paper.
As we walked out of the store, bags in hand, Kate’s mom realized we had been in the store for two hours. Woops! We packed the bags into the back of the SUV and walked back over to the sidewalk. The Christmas Tree Shoppes here was in a strip mall along with a Bob’s store (sporting goods, not furniture), a Cape Cod Crafters, a Papa Gino’s, and a Kohl’s, as well as some other stuff. Next on our list was going to be Cape Cod Crafters, but we decided to take a peek into Bob’s first, since we figured we would have more bags of stuff from Cape Cod Crafters.
We were rummaging around in the professional sports jersey replicas when we heard something surprising. Bob’s was offering 30% off everything if you just signed up for a store card. We cautiously approached the desk, and after Kate’s mom found out that it was not a credit card, but just a card like for Stop & Shop, we were voraciously filling out forms. They didn’t even make me give my phone number or email address. They just wanted a mailing address to send coupons to. I like coupons!
Now that we were holding a huge discount in hand, we switched from holding a few things in our hands to using a cart and a hand basket. I picked out gifts for a variety of people, including poorly veiled attempts at buying gifts for each other. Kate has apparently known what she’s getting for Christmas every year since she was like ten. This isn’t weird for them, so I’ve decided to just roll with it, even though I find it kind of foreign.
Since we had a discount, Kate and I also decided to pick out boots for ourselves. We were both in dire need. My old boots had a hole in one toe and the heel was pealing off the other foot. I was super excited to find some three-inch-heeled knee-high boots that were two very exciting things: they were size 11 (my feet are huge!) and they fit over my calves! Exciting thing number one was thanks to the store, but exciting thing number two was all thanks to my super-fabulous-awesome trainer-and-nutritionist Donna and our work on making me less fat. Last year at this time, I had to settle for boots that were not nearly as cute because the cute ones just wouldn’t go over my fat calves. I love my new boots.
We exited that store an unexpectedly large number of bags, but decided to trod on into Cape Cod Crafters anyway. Kate’s mom and I each found one cute thing in there (that’s right – one – good planning, huh?). It was coming to our attention, however, that we were hungry. Okay, starving. More than three hours had passed since we got into town, and before that, it had been at least a couple hours since we’d eaten breakfast. It was 2:00 when we dragged our bags into a six-person booth at Papa Gino’s.
I don’t actually like Papa Gino’s pizza very much. It’s greasy and the sauce only vaguely resembles tomatoes. But at that point, I was so hungry I could hardly wait. We got our sodas (yeah… I had soda… with caffeine… yes, I was hyper…) and ordered a whole pizza to share amongst us. We finished it. All the while, people gave us funny looks for our booth full of bags.
Kohl’s was the next stop, but while it was in the same parking lot, our vehicle was all the way at the other end. So we dragged our bags back to the car, packed them in, and drove to the other end of the parking lot. We miraculously got a pretty good parking spot, and went with our newly empty hands into the store…