Around the Corner

This week was a lesson in patience and learning.  Mostly in patience.  

You may recall my coveted glass-front cabinet that I bought for a steal at Ikea, that now houses some of my favorite heels (some that are more suited for display purposes than wearing purposes, if you know what I mean).  Ever since, I’ve been hunting for the two matching gray-brown dressers to complete my bedroom furniture ensemble.  

First, back up story.  Why would anyone want to replace their current furniture for not always cheap brand new furniture?  Yes, Ikea is most people’s cheap version of furniture, but sometimes that can even be a stretch for those on a limited budget.  The answer: I simply didn’t have furniture.  I used to have really large/sliding door closets and would hang most of my clothes, and any leftovers, simply store in laundry bins and hide those in my closet as well.  Pretty classy, huh?  Oh.  I also had grabbed a previous tall-ish dresser from Ikea about 9 years ago with 5 drawers and see-through front panels.  Clearly, this piece needs to go!  They don’t even make this piece at Ikea anymore!

I purchased the 3 drawer dresser from Ikea brand new, unassembled, mostly due to the cheapish price ($150).  However, the larger, 6 drawer dresser would hold my remaining clothes, and clear the remaining clutter in my room.  I decided this was more than necessary, and visited Ikea many, many times to see if one would end up in the “as is” section.  No such luck, at least in the gray-brown color.  So I started hunting on Craigslist.  After about 3 weeks of searching and revisiting the site 3-4 times per day, I finally found one. The seller was listing it for $180 down from $250 brand new, and I made an offer of $150 for budgetary reasons.  The seller accepted, and we made plans to meet several days later, on Saturday morning at 11:00am.  She gave me her name, address, phone number, and condo unit #, which ended up being just over an hour from where I live.  It was still worth saving $100 on the piece, so I went for it (plus it was put together, and I just don’t have the patience to do that on my own and would have to bribe someone to do it for me)!  This was Wednesday night when all of the details were settled.  

Saturday arrived, I borrowed a truck, gassed up (jeez gas is NOT cheap BTW), and made sure to leave in plenty of time to account for the multiple pro sports games that were taking place in the city that day, and also numerous St. Patrick’s Day parades also happening concurrently in the city.  Arrive at the condo building, and of course have to pay for street parking in the city.  Annoying, but also worth the dresser, you know?  Buzz the concierge, get into the lobby, have concierge call seller after giving my info.  Concierge relays my info to seller, then gets a confused look on her face and asks me specifically what furniture I am there to pick up.  I rattle off “Ikea Hemnes dresser in gray-brown” as I’ve been hunting this ridiculous beast for weeks in person and online it was like saying my own name at that point! Am then informed by concierge who has just hung up her phone, that the seller “apologizes profusely but she sold the dresser last night to someone she thought was you.”  

Really chick?  You thought someone with a different email address, a different NAME, and a different pick up time, and who offered a different price was me???  And to make your concierge CYA for you???  I was literally standing there in shock for a second, then recovered, and told the concierge thank you for her assistance, and noted that it would have been helpful to know before driving up to get the dresser from an hour away and filling up my friends vehicle with gas (yeah…that was $60).  It was apparent the girl was not going to come down herself and tell me that she actually decided to sell the dresser to someone who was willing to pay full price and pick it up earlier than I was, which is what I know happened.

I went home, pretty disappointed.  Not about the dresser, but about putting a lot of time and energy planning the pickup, borrowing a truck, filling it up, and spending 2 hours round trip to the location and back home.  I did get an email back from the liar, I mean seller, noting she had someone “shopping” in her condo, so she couldn’t come down to the lobby and tell me herself what happened, and she had “somehow” gotten my email confused with another person’s.  

Right.  

So, lesson learned, I will no longer be trolling Craigslist for furniture.  The only other time I attempted to purchase an item off Craigslist, was 2.5 years ago when I was in desperate need of a car.  I was looking for a used honda/toyota sedan model, after my car died on the highway, and found a seller after weeks of searching, in the city (so about an hour away).  For some reason at this time, the cars I were searching for and calling on were getting snapped up within hours of being posted, or after I called on, would sell before I physically got to the cars location (and of course the seller wouldn’t call me to tell me, but instead waited until I arrived to tell me, in order to attempt to sell me on another vehicle).  That was actually a legit car dealership that tried that little trick.  But in my opinion, lying to a customer and pissing them off is generally not a good sales tactic, so i continued on my search.

Back to the original sketchy seller from this car story.  I find the exact car I want, call on it, make an appointment later that day to see it in person, get there later that day, and miraculously the car hasn’t been sold when I arrive.  That was shocking-for my experience at least.  I test drive the car (runs great), and I note that the only thing I want is to have a honda mechanic do a basic inspection that I will pay for ($100) at the girl’s convenience.  She said she could take it in the next day, and I would call the shop and give my credit card #, and then we would make a payment arrangement for the car.  She said that was great and had no problem with the inspection and would call me the following day from the honda dealership.  

I’m elated.

As I’m driving home (again, it was an hour away from where I lived at the time), I get a call from the girl, but wait until I get home to check the message.  The girl notes she’s “very sorry” but has sold the car to the people she had an appointment with after mine, as they gave her cash up front without asking for a mechanic to look it over.

Really.

So after these two gems of experience with good old Craigslist, I’m done.  And maybe I’ll wake up one day, walk around the corner, and find my dresser waiting for me!  Or end up buying it brand new.  We’ll see.

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Deal of a lifetime…and some much-needed followups!

About that Ikea cabinet (and about that move).  Move completed, done, finished.  Took about a week to unpack and arrange furniture and whatnots, and re-arranged bedroom furniture again tonight, but that had to be done.  I hate feeling like my room is crowded, or doesn’t make sense with the layout.  I also hate it when furniture isn’t lined up in corners.  So here we are, corners aligned and all!  I filled up my gorg glass-front cabinet really quickly, as there isn’t a ton of closet space to work with, and I just bought my first ever normal looking dresser…which is great for lounge and workout clothes, but not much else.  It’s match-matchy with the glass-front cabinte though, so it had to be done.  I saved the top two shelves in the cabinet for my favorite, display worthy shoes, and thought I would show you a picture of how it turned out.  Originally, I intended for the cabinet to be shoes only, but that idea went out the window when I realized the current closet is 50% smaller than my previous closet.  I’m actually in the process of purchasing a second, matching dresser off of Craigslist (my first time interacting with another human and making a purchase, a little anxious about the deal going down on Saturday, but it’s a deal of a deal.  The dresser retails for $250 at cheap, beloved Ikea, and the seller was asking for $180.  I offered $150, and the deal is sealed!) so if I have a good experience I may look to this medium again in the future for furniture purchases.  Back to the cabinet.  If I can fit enough in the dresser, I may be able to add more of my fancy favorite shoes, or devote a shelf to my Frye boots, which would make me insanely happy.  Here’s the shelf for now as she stands:

Ikea Hemnes Glass Front Cabinet in Grey-Brown

Kind of a fuzzy pic, but that’s what I get for taking this at night without good, outdoor lighting!  The shoes on top are ones that plain just did not fit under my bed, in the shoe stand in my closet, or inside the cabinet, but I think it’s fine for now.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just in case you’re curious about the shoes in more detail, here they are:

ImageThere they are, in all of their glory…

If, at one point, I am able to fill the cabinet entirely with shoes, I will post an updated picture!  How ridiculous would that be, I mean really?!  Glass display cabinet…for shoes.  

Second update.  Most important update (at least in my baking life).

Remember I was raving about the KitchenAid livechat rep I contacted months ago, and was super stoked on getting a refurbished stand mixer, and how much cheaper it was going to be buying my choice of color in a refurb unit as opposed to a brand new option?  Or how there were a couple of models at Costco, and I realized the smaller, 4.5 quart unit would be more appropriate after livechatting with KitchenAid.  But somehow I had talked myself out of the smaller Costco sold unit (though it was a great deal at $199, and then had an offer for a mail in rebate for an extra $20, taking it down to $179 (look at those math skills!  SAT math score, you ain’t got nothin’ on me anymore!) but the catch was that first off, there weren’t any online reviews to read for this particular model sold at Costco.  I read the reviews posted for the larger, 5.5 quart unit, and they were mixed.  Some noted that because it was a specially made unit for Costco, the “KitchenAid” quality and craftsmanship were lacking.  That threw me a bit, and also the fact that the color options for the 4.5 unit were limited to: white, stainless steel, lime green, red, and cobalt blue.  Of course, after looking at the 30+ color options on the KitchenAid site, I had somehow convinced myself that it was “worth it” to buy the gorg ice blue model that caught my eye in a refurb 5 quart unit for $270 instead of the new model price of $319 after the rebates listed on KitchenAid.  So I sat and thought, and thought some more, and couldn’t quite commit to buying it.  

Enter my love affair with furniture, newly minted and fast and furious.  There goes the funding for the ice blue refurb model for $270.

But the more I thought about the Costco option, the more I realized that the cobalt blue model was pretty cute, and rationalized that if anything went wrong, Costco has a sweet return policy, along with help from KitchenAid itself for parts and pieces if they malfunctioned.  And bottom line, $179 was much much better of a deal than $270.  I continued to think.  Then after about three weeks of using the crap-tastic HB stand mixer, I caved.  I vowed I would not bake another treat until I had marched myself into Costco and swiped my debit card for my stand mixer (in cobalt blue, I decided).  

One catch.  

I hadn’t visited the mixer at Costco in about two weeks (I’m usually there once a week, as I live really close and drive by it everyday on the way to the gym).  I thought, ok, next Costco trip, I need to scoop this bad boy up, because stuff literally flies off the shelves at Costco, and you never know if an item is coming back or what the story is.  The next day, at Costco, and oh….snap.  No gorg stacks of stand mixers, only an end cap overflowing with the larger, bowl-lift unit that was closer to $300 (and I was definitely not going to rationalize that one!).  I glanced at the shelf where the demo units are, and saw the lonely, cobalt blue mixer, just sitting with all the attachments.  I looked closer, and saw that there was a price sign hiding inside the bowl, stating the price had dropped from $199 down to $179 (what the…), and then that price was crossed out, and handwritten by a manager (or so it said), $170.  The tag noted this was the demo unit and was the “last one.”  I looked inside the bowl and made sure all of the attachments were there (they were, and then some I realized later that night).  All three were there.  I checked for a manual lying around, and couldn’t find one.  I immediately thought that the KitchenAid website would have something I could download or order, so I wasn’t worried about that.  Finally, I carefully scanned the unit for any scratches, scrapes, dents or anything sketchy (nothing to be found).  I gently scooped up the mixer and placed it in my cart.  The signage didn’t mention the rebate that had previously been listed on the other tags, but I figured it was a better deal being marked down to $170 anyway, as the rebate only would have dropped it to $179.  I just couldn’t believe my luck–how was the display model the color that I had exactly wanted?  Any other color, and I probably wouldn’t have taken it, and waited for another model or another deal in the future.  I stood in line in shock, not believing what was happening, and how fortuitous this all seemed.  As I was paying, I asked the cashier if the return policy was the same for demo units (she assured me it was), and the runner even checked to see if this item was getting replenished, just to see if I wanted to hold off until more units came in (they weren’t getting more).  So I paid, and guess what.  The cashier noted that the rebate info was at the bottom of my receipt, and to go online to submit my info.  Rebate?  You mean after two separate markdowns on this fantastic, wonderful piece of kitchen joy, on top of that, I still had a rebate coming my way???

Yes, yes sir, it appeared that way.  After getting home, and still not believing my luck, I went online to costco.com and submitted the info from my receipt, and was told my check would be processed and mailed to me in 4-6 weeks.  I stared.  I tried to process.  I seriously got an amazing, rad, life-changing kitchen appliance for $150.  This mixer was something I had always thought would be something I would have to register for as a wedding gift, as the thought of spending $400 on a mixer of all things just boggled the mind.  But $150 is just stupid, like honestly so stupid that I can have the kitchen’s most priceless appliance for that low.  

And it works perfectly.  I found the online manual and downloaded it onto my laptop, shined and sanitized the crap out of it, and it works beautifully.  Unbelievable.  Literally.  Here she is, in all of her KitchenAid glory:

KitchenAid stand mixer in cobalt blue

An old classic

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Today I revisited an old haunt, The Nickerson Saloon. This tasty gem has been a staple in my foodie life for over a decade, and always gives me a reason to remember fondly. The food is simple and delicious, usually with an artful twist on the old standby plates, but plenty of classics score the menu. Case in point: my pick today was the Saloon Burger, medium rare with a seasoned, tangy aioli coating the inner bun, and garnished with tomato, red onion and pickle on the side. I loved every bite! Usually I would time my trip during happy hour where beers are discounted and the apps are ordered by the fistful, but today was lunch only. Until we meet again Nickerson, I tip my hat to you and am counting the days for the outdoor patio opening.

As Leslie Knope would say…

Gal-entine’s Day has come and gone, and to celebrate some of my sweet girlfriends, I put my newly acquired macaroon making skills to use and cranked out some delicious puffy pastries.  And by that I mean I spent over six hours concocting over 70 dang cookies.  That’s in addition to the first batch that had to be completely tossed due to the egg whites not being mixed enough (remember my crappy-ish HB mixer that was supposed to be replaced by a KitchenAid but then I re-discovered Ikea???  I knew this would come back to bite me!).  

Back to my gals.  So I decided to not only crank out enough for several of my friends (and enough to “taste test”), I have been collecting various flavored exracts since my first macaroon attempt, and now wanted to come up with unbelievable delish flavor combos.  With a lot of thinking and experimenting, I developed the following: Lemon with lavender buds sprinkled on top:

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Coffee flavored with ground espresso:

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Almond Rose with additional ground almonds:

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Now if you’re wondering just want 70 macaroons look like all lined up, wonder no more:

 

 

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Additional gratuitous macaroon shot:

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So that was my Galentine’s Day, and it was a lot of sweaty work, but a lot of fun.  The project got even more fun when I spent so much time picking out patterned tissue paper and pastry boxes, in addition to shipping boxes and digging for addresses, I nearly didn’t get to the post office in the appropriate time to ship out in time!  This was indeed a labor of love, but totally worth it.

Bombs Away!

ImageSo if you’re anything like me, when you first discovered Pinterest, you lost a good, solid 12 hours of your life.  I’m sure everyone figured out the awesomeness of this site about 3 years ago, but until recently, I didn’t have a crafting, cooking bone in my body, or any desire to find one.  But the story changes one night when I was looking on Tumblr for images of a hair color I wanted…after not finding enough pictures, for some reason, Pinterest popped into my mind and I thought I would explore.  Twelve hours later…I had more than a handful of hair color images to choose from, along with new boards for nail polish, women’s fashion trends (aptly entitled “styling up in this piece”), crafting options, exercises, healthy cooking ideas, you get the idea.  As I was browsing the craft boards (never thought I would write that sentence!), I noticed delicious recipes for concocting my own bath bombs and pinned a few.

I love love love bath bombs, but hate hate hate the prices at Lush!  Yet I still pay them every time, as I’m a huge sucker for how adorable and coma inducing their bombs are.  The bath bombs I usually pick out end up costing between $6-$8 each, and it’s just ludicrous that a bath accessory should cost that much!  Armed with by far the weirdest shopping list of my life (ummm, hello citric acid, I’m looking at you), I traveled to three separate crafting stores and a health food market, and gathered my supplies.  Now comes the fun part…

I followed the recipe carefully, mixed gently, avoided dampening the mixture too much (except at one point, accidentally, the bowl started fizzing maniacally), then carefully pressed the grainy powder into silicon cupcake molds and a mini-muffin pan.  And waited for magic.  I let them sit overnight, and then popped out the heart-shaped ones no problem, as the mold was flexible and easy to wriggle.  However, this was not the story for the mini-muffin tin, and I had to savagely pry out the bombs out of this pan, and determined they would be excellent bath bomb crumblies!

One caveat, I would recommend switching up glasses for contacts, as I swiped a tiny bit of bath bomb goodness on the corner of my frames!  Not to worry, it quickly came off, but I would hate to damage these gems.

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Hurt so Good!

While I have continued “researching” my KitchenAid beauty, I was all set to make the fateful call to customer service and place my order for that bad boy, when something happened.  That something was Ikea.  Now Ikea and I have not been friends.  Ever.  Every single Ikea trip I made with a friend or brother/sister was straight up painful, awful, mind-numbing, etc. My Ikea hatred began when I naively allowed my old college roommate to drag me in there once under the guise of “running in really quick to see if they have some fun house decor.”  Cut to four hours later and me tired, hungry, cranky and completely burned out…I swore I would not enter those automatic doors again.  But, of course I did.  Always with aforementioned roommate, and always for a “quick” trip that lasted hours and hours.  I finally learned better (at some point) and refused to go for about the last decade.  Home decorating is just not my bag-and as Carrie Bradshaw so aptly stated, “I like my money right where I can see it-hanging in my closet.”  Why would I spend money on tacky pillows and unassembled furniture when there was denim and heels to be had?  The last time I can remember even being in the vicinity of Ikea was about 3 years ago with my mom and sister, and I waited in the car for them while they had their own “quick trip” and enjoyed a productive, hour long nap.  But last week was oh so different, and oh so magical.  Which brings me back to heels.

I accidentally looked at the creative apartment decorating section in Lucky magazine years ago, and saw this amazingly cool way to display pretty shoes: in a glass front cabinet.  I ripped that page out and carefully filed it away in a section titled “things I really want but will prolly never have” and forgot about it for the most part.  Until I walked through Ikea’s warehouse sized store and found such a beauty in the As-Is section.  It was a gorgeous, 6 ft+ piece, in a lovely gray/brown color, with six shelves on which I could display all of my currently boxed up heels that I have waiting for a special date.  The “damage” for this piece, was that it was simply being discontinued, and was therefore $80 off from the regular $320 price.  So I pushed pause on the KitchenAid purchase, and I’m oh-so-glad I did!  I will likely still buy a KitchenAid in the relatively near future, but there was no waiting on the cabinet-literally.  We had to wheel that dragon around the store while we waited for a friend in a more hospitable environment than my honda civic to come rescue us and deliver the piece safely an hour away from the store.  No paying and putting it on hold, you want it, you slide it down on your minicart and enjoy.  And I did!  Made it home in one piece (and I super love that the As Is section is no assembly required!), as I still remember my old roommate pounding a bed frame together until some ungodly hour of the morning and showing me her blisters the next day.  Eeech.

I’ll be moving here in the next couple of weeks, and I cannot wait to plot and plan the shoe arrangement!   More importantly, the pain of Ikea has faded and now I see it in it’s full glory…and I like housewares now!  And furniture!  And lighting options!  Who would have thought?  This recent foray into the baking world has led to more domesticity than I intended…and I kind of like it 🙂Image

A Macaron is Sown

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A Macaron is Sown

After being inspired by many a blog recently, I was encouraged to follow a recipe from beginning to end, which felt more like “till death do us part” after making these monsters. Cute monsters, but monsters still. Why is this notable?

I am bored by most recipes, more bored by cooking or baking in general, and most bored when in a cooking or baking related store. Crate&Barrel? Shoot me now. William-Sonoma? I’ll wait next door at Sephora. What cracked my resolve was finding out that a regular human being (and not only French-studied super humans) could make these. Nevermind that the thrifted purchase of a lesser stand mixer took 14 minutes to beat the egg whites properly, or turn the beaten egg-whites into peaks after adding abnormal amounts of sugar (23 minutes instead of the noted 7-8). I sweated mildy and swore profusely, but managed to follow the recipe and found these creations staring at me from the parchment papered cookie sheet.

What I learned though, is that KitchenAid is synonomous with a product for a reason (much like Kleenex and Post-It), and I had to beg, borrow or steal to make sure I would not have to suffer through this already lengthy process unduly in the future. Although my resolve broke and I cracked out some pistachio flavored macarons soon after my initial experiment (which was almond with a raspberry white chocolate filling). Back to KitchenAid, my research began at Macy’s, and soon I had six open tabs to equally represent Amazon, Macy’s, William-Sonoma, Target, and QVC (yeah, I said it, they have insane deals sometimes, especially with their “easy pay.” And I dare you not to get excited when they bundle their delicious Philosophy skin and body care products. It might change your life like it changed mine). I quickly noted that Macy’s was a cheap shot player, and though they boast of some kind of ridiculous sale once a week (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Veteran’s Day, Labor Day, It’s Saturday Day!), they were almost 33% more than the other retailers. Thunk. Target was similar, as was Amazon, and my main contenders were surprisingly William-Sonoma, KitchenAid.com, and QVC. I actually was entranced by the hour long program on QVC last night featuring KitchenAid, but was disappointed not to find the color I had in mind. Thunk. Down to William-Sonoma and KitchenAid.

In my research, I noted that there were differently sized bowls, along with colors, accessories, and prices. What better way to figure out this madness than to consult a professional via livechat on KitchenAid.com? This may be some form of showrooming, as I initially doubted I would be purchasing my new toy from the source itself, but hoped some education would get thrown my way. Surprisingly, I chatted with a rad employee who was stationed somewhere on the east coast, and shared her personal preferences and noted what would be best for what I would be using my mixer for. Then my heart stopped a beat when she recommended I consider purchasing a refurb model, and save about $100. What? Pick out my color, and get over the fact that it has a 6 month warranty compared to 12, and note that there are service locations all over the country as well as replacement parts? Sounds too good to be true.

After sending her manager an email regarding how helpful my livechat buddy was, I told her I would be back to place my order after taking a day to sit on the info and consider my color choice. While I thought the new limited edition Raspberry Ice was initially the love of my life, I reconsidered the next morning how pleasing to the eye that blue ice was.

Placing my order is on the agenda for tomorrow, and I could not be more excited. Part II will tell if I get the deal of my dreams, or if there’s more to the story.