from that thrift shop down the road

sometimes the work week is just so much work, am i right?

today i escaped my apathy and boredom at my desk and headed to my favorite thrift shop, which is more consignment-meets-hoarders, and is one of those places where you take really shallow breaths to avoid inhaling centuries of dust and mildew and god knows what else.  it is awesome.  i was not in the mood to spend money today, which is usually the case, which makes me wonder why i ever go shopping at all?  but oh, the clothes and the trinkets!

i walked right in the front door and found this black lucite chair for only $28 and the skies parted and the angels sang and even as i thought “where on earth will i put this?” i thought for sure that i had found a priceless treasure.

lucitechair

just to be sure, i sent a picture of the chair to my long distance girlfriend ashley,. who introduced me to said thrift shop, and asked her opinion, assuming she’d be all, hell yeah you go GET you that lucite chair!  but then things took a turn.

me: how badly do i need this $28 lucite chair?
ash: uncomfy and sure to look outdated soon enough. i don’t think it’ll be a good investment.

my soul was crushed, until i received her followup text.

ash: my husband would say that it looks like it belongs in a Miami hotel room where people snort cocaine.

with that, i slowly backed away from the chair, strangely validated in my rejection of the once hopeful seat.  we hardly knew ye, lucite chair!

i spent the rest of my tour taking pictures of ridiculous things and sending them to hubs with messages like “this monkey lamp is worth $100 right?” and “how much do you love this poster of a lady walking two afghans?”  he knows better than to protest too much, so i left the thrift shop empty-handed on my own accord.

here is a glimpse of some of the other treasures that i passed up.

stroh’s is probably the worst beer in the world.  there were 12 of these mugs.  hubs drinks stroh’s sometimes if it’s the $1 beer special at our local restaurant that allows you to bring your dog.  needless to say, we eat there a lot.

strohsmug

upon further relfection, i seriously regret not getting these tiny busts of unknown (to me) Swiss composers which also wind up and play music!  shoulda gone back for these babies.

musicboxbusts

the illustrious monkey lamp.

monkeylamp

a plaque that i 100% seriously wanted to buy for my father-in-law, though i was uncomfortable with the reference to an “old” fisherman.  nobody wants to be called old, right?  but i think my mother-in-law would have approved of the reference to his “best catch”.

fishplaque

and the afghan poster, which is quite possibly the most hideous thing i’ve ever seen at a thrift store.  we both know that’s not true.  but it left quite the impression on me.

afghans

i mean, right?

this concludes our thrift store adventures for today, and possibly ever.  it was exhausting wading through all of the W.S.S.A. (Worthless Shit that Sits Around ™).  until next time!

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They’re the 2 Best (Pillow) Friends That Anyone Could Have

Remember this past April when I went to Brussels and drunkenly picked out this souvenier bull terrier pillow?

brusselspillow

Well now it has a friend, that was purchased while sober.  Behold!

bichonpillow

It’s a bichon!  I grew up with a bichon (which autocorrect changes to “bitching”, I just thought you should know), rest his soul.  My sisters and I still cry when we think about him.  He was like our 5th sibling.  He was the best dog ever.  So when I saw this super cheesy bichon pillow on Joss & Main, with very similar coloring to the bull terrier pillow, I had to have it.

Here is me at an awkward 9 years old with my little buddy:

familydog3

He sort of looks like a demon here, as red eye correction doesn’t work on pictures taken circa 1993, I guess.

familydog4

That sweet face kills me.  And we did a lot of pumpkin carving in my childhood, apparently.

But back to the pillows.  Look how cute they are together:

pillowfriends

They make me so happy, though I need a better inside billow for the bull terrier, I realize now.  Hubs is less than thrilled about the new BFF pillows, but he’ll get over it.

My one gripe is that I ordered this pillow on November 9th.  It arrived at my house on December 11th.  I emailed Joss & Main after the first couple of weeks went by, and their response was kind of bitchy, BUT once you order one thing from them, you get free shipping for the next 30 days, so I’ve been ordering all sorts of little chotchkies from them to milk that free shipping for all it’s worth. #neverforget

As a result, I also picked up a new kitchen rug to match the one we already have under the table in our kitchen nook:

rugs

I don’t think it’s vine overload because there is an island between them so you don’t ever really see both at the same time.  And NOW I realize that I rid our kitchen of vine-inspired light fixtures, only to fill it with vine-inspired rugs.

Most other chotchkies are Christmas gifts, so I’ll have to wait to exploit those here.  But I love watching them all trickle in, tiny package by tiny package.  Buster does not love watching them trickle in, because he is terrified of boxes.

And raccoons, we learned yesterday.

bustermohawk

Living Room Arrangement

When we were house hunting 2 years ago, hubs and I agreed that we didn’t see the need for a separate den and formal living room.  We are not terribly formal people (understatement of the century).  Most of the houses we looked at were built in the late 70’s to early 80’s, and almost all had a separate den and formal living space.  But our precious homeowners had already knocked down the wall between theirs, which basically made us see the opposite of dollar signs flashing in the air when we walked in the front door.

The only problem we’ve been having is how to fill up that space purposefully, functionally, and classilly…?  So here is how it looked for almost 2 years:

The red squares are two giant mid-century armchairs that we inherited from hubs’s parents.  They are neat in a been-around-the-block kind of way, but Buster’s hair clings to the fabric like Madonna clings to her youth, which can be so frustrating.  So up the stairs they rolled (seriously, I rolled them, by myself.  Have I ever told you how impatient I am?).

Here are the red chairs, sort of:

We decided a while back that we needed a desk in this space, because when we work from home, it’d be nice to have a space to work that doesn’t involve the couch or the stools in the kitchen that make your butt go numb after 45 minutes.  We came up with two configurations.

This one, which we ultimately decided was a little too wacky:

And this one, which is more boring but also lends itself to laziness, in that the TV can stay put:

So we ordered a desk (this one) and put it together, and rearranged the room, but the desk ultimately felt too small for the wall.  So hubs agreed to keep rearranging until it felt right, which had me all hot and bothered because usually I have to beg him to move furniture around.  Hubba hubba.

After shuffling things around for a bit, we decided that the desk was a better fit between the windows that face the front of the house, and that we can go one of two directions from there.  This one, which involves scouring the ends of Homegoods for 2 more armchairs (they are blue and green because we already own 1 blue and 1 green chair):

Or this one, which allows us to go shopping for a super fancy (looking) settee!  Which is really just a pretty and less bulky loveseat.

Decently priced settees are surprisingly difficult to find.  Brand new, they are in the range of $600 to $1200.  I even found a gently used and not hideous one on Craigslist for $425.  But then I did a quick google search on gray settee, and found this baby hiding at my favorite money-sucking everystore, Target:

It’s beautiful.  It’s not a behemoth.  And the greatest part of all is that it is cheap AND has great reviews.  AND it’s gray AND it has silver nailhead trim AND I am obsessed with it.  Original price is $299, but with the 5% off with my redCard and another 15% for a reason I cannot quite figure out and free shipping (the way to a girl’s heart), it comes to $259.

SOLD!

For now, we have the living room in this setup, which feels goofy, but hubs and I found ourselves parked across from each other in the armchairs for a good chunk of our evening, so maybe we are on to something.

God, I love rearranging furniture.  It makes me feel so alive.

And now that the windows are no longer blocked, Buster can assume his figurehead position as house watchdog.

Last Day in Paris: Sacre Bleu!

Our last day in Paris (sob) started with a quick trek up to the Sacre Coeur Basilica in the Montmartre area north of the city center. Here’s how it looks on a normal sunny day:

And here’s how it looked when we saw it:

If I had to use one phrase to describe the weather on our trip, it would be schizophrainic fogpocalypse (see what I did there?).  It rained on and off for the entire trip, but that’s okay, because it allowed me to get shots of Paris like this one that a coworker complimented me on because, “You can always google a picture of Paris on a clear day…but your pictures are really depressing.”

Why thank you!

STORY TIME:

We had a lot of creepy moments during our 10 days in Europe, but probably the creepiest of all was the band of misfits that was loitering near the base of Sacre Coeur.  It goes like this:

A man walks up to you holding a string between his hands and saying “Hakuna Matata!” which, due to my experience with bums on the streets of Atlanta, immediately put me on high alert. So I put my hand on my purse and say, “No thank you.” The man proceeds to approach me with the string, saying, “No no, hakuna matata, it’s okay!” Then he GRABS MY ARM, so I yell, “NOTHANKYOUDON’TTOUCHME!” and quickly shuffle past him. There were four of us and probably 6 or 7 of the Hakunas, and we all miraculously managed to evade them.  I didn’t see it with my own eyes, because he was behind me, but I heard that hubs turned into the Hulk and practically threw them to the side, but I don’t know, I can only speculate.

It turns out that their trick is to make you think they’re going to give you a friendship bracelet of sorts, but instead they TIE YOUR FINGERS TOGETHER and refuse to untie you until you give them money.  They’re entrepreneurs at heart, after all.  Crisis averted, but lesson learned: If you hear the words “Hakuna Matata” in public, turn into the Hulk and run for your life.

We then grabbed some breakfast and wandered through the Montmartre area looking for things we never actually found, such as Van Gogh’s house.

We finally made it to Moulin Rouge, which looked nothing like it did in the movie:

After learning our lesson about trying to walk too far, we took the subway down to the shopping district so we could pick up some waaaaaay cheaper in France Longchamp bags.  We headed to Printemps, the famous department store, which has an amazing rooftop cafe where you can take pictures of the entire city.  And also shop your face off.

We took our time strolling back toward the river, passed by the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay one last time, before catching the subway back to our ‘hood, where we picked up a last box of glorious macaroons.

We weren’t actually leaving Paris until the next morning (Sunday), but the person who checked us in and out of our rented apartment came by on Saturday to make sure we hadn’t destroyed the place.  When she asked about our dinner plans and we said we had none, she called an amazing hole-in-the-wall steak restaurant and asked for a table for four, in French.  I wanted to hug her and stroke her hair and never let her go.  We said goodbye, got gussied up, and went to eat at Robert et Louise.

The restaurant only has room for about 5 tables total, and all of the meat is served on wooden plates, while communal bowls of salad and roasted potatoes are passed around.  It was an amazing finale to an incredible trip.

The next morning, we got up and went to the Eiffel Tower one last time to try to climb at least part of it…but it was pouring rain (shocker) and about 1,000 tour buses had already beat us there.  So we took a few shots of its underbelly and bid the Eiffel Tower adieu.

We followed the advice of our host lady and took the Roissybus from the center of Paris to Charles de Gaulle airport for our flights home.  It was a hell of a lot easier than changing trains 3 times with all of our luggage.  And of course by the time we left, it was 70 and sunny across Paris.  Go figure.

Just finishing my recaps of our trip makes me sad that it’s over all over again.  It was a long and sometimes grueling but ultimately amazing trip with good food, great friends, and experiences I’m sure none of us will ever forget.

Until next time, “Bonjour!” 🙂

Beer & Waffles: A Love Story

Here we go with another travel recap.  I feel like I can’t write about anything else until I’m done with these things, and since I’ve had at least 3 people tell me how lazy I’ve been at blogging lately, let’s just get ‘er done.

On our second-to-last full day in Europe, we headed to the Paris Gare du Nord train station to buy 4 tickets to Brussels.  Based on research we’d done online beforehand, we thought we’d be able to buy discount passes in person, but, we were SO wrong.  Buy your tickets in advance, people.  Lesson learned.

The Brussels Grand Place looked a lot like Munich’s town square, including the old churches and, just, old buildings in general.  We started our day with breakfast, which mostly included a first but definitely not last round of Belgian waffles.

Belgian waffles are different than regular old American waffles because they have chunks of sugar in them.  It’s a totally worthwhile diabetic nightmare.  If you happen to have a friend who is obsessed with perfecting their version of Belgian waffles stateside, then you should count your blessings (ahem, Greg).

One of the buildings in the square has a pretty obvious architectural flaw.  You can see that two different architects each worked on different sides of the building before meeting in the middle, though the results weren’t exactly symmetrical.

One of our first tasks of the day was to track down the Mannekin Pis, aka The Peeing Boy.  Go here to read more about it.  It’s basically a statue of a boy peeing, and it is usually clothed in one of several hundred costumes, although it was naked the day we were in Brussels.  Just our luck.

We brought back many seemingly inappropriate Peeing Boy souveniers for our friends and family.  I’ll assume that they were grateful.

We also tracked down the Jeanneke Pis, which is the female version of the above statue, which was put up by a restaurant to attract tourist traffic.  It’s at the end of a quiet alley, and is honestly kind of creepy.

On the same quiet alley, we found the Delirium Cafe, which might just be our Favorite Bar Of All Time.  It’s actually made up of multiple bars on the same block, but we headed to the basement beer bar, which holds a Guinness record for having more than 2,000 beers on the menu.  The menu is the size of a phone book.

It was dark, cool and cozy, and we got to try beers that we’ll probably never have the luxury of tasting again. I’m holding a Delirium Tremens in the photo below, which is admittedly not rare, but, when in Rome.

From Delirium we went to get the best frites I’ve ever tasted, probably because we were pretty drunk.  I’ve never power-eaten french fries like that in my life, and I hope I never do again.  Come to think of it, I don’t remember if we ate actual lunch?  Can anyone confirm?

With bellies full of frites, we caught a cab to Cantillon, a brewery in Brussels that was founded in 1900 and is still run by the original family today.  They make lambic beers (aka sour & sometimes fruity) that are spontaneously fermented by yeast in the air, rather than by yeast that is manually added directly to the beer.

There is a self-guided tour through a rickety wood building that ends with a tasting. The brewery itself is really hard to find.  We found the street address in a Rick Steves’ book, and gave that to our cabbie, and made it just fine, but if you just tell them to take you to Cantillon, you probably won’t get very far.  You can walk from Grand Place, but the neighborhood it’s in is pretty shady, so I don’t recommend it unless you have a posse.

SInce we’ve been home, we’ve had a couple of bottles of Lindeman’s lambic that is readily available here in the states, but it pales in comparison.  Cantillon is so good and tasty, so if you ever get the chance to try it, please do, or I will curse you for the rest of your days.

After Cantillon, we grabbed one more drink (of water) in the town square before heading back to the train station and catching an evening train to Paris.

Oh and I also bought this pillow in Brussels.  I have no explanation.

So, Thanksgiving Happened.

So, Thanksgiving was fine.  Nobody cried!  But hosting is flipping exhausting.  No matter how prepared you think you are or how much work you do in advance, there is still going to be a crap ton of stuff to do last minute.  By the end of it, my back was killing me from washing so many dishes and pots and casseroles, and I think the longest I got to sit at the dinner table was about 90 seconds, because of various demands for superfluous things like forks, plates, etc. etc. and so forth.

Maybe I’m not cut out for this housewifey thing after all.

The funniest part of the whole experience was when my family left, and I was left with hubs, his parents, and his kooky cousin.  So naturally, I set out to finish the 4 bottles of wine we had overzealously uncorked before dinner so they wouldn’t go to waste (not even 2 Buck Chuck is poured down the drain at casa de Annie).  Around 10:30 p.m., drunk and looking for something to do other than watch football, I suggested we go to the nearest Target at midnight to watch the herd of Black Friday cows file in and fistfight over TVs.  Shockingly, everyone was game for a trip.

As soon as we got to Target, we realized our mistake, as none of us were laughing at the insanely long line to get in the door.  Rather than walk half a mile to the end of the queue, we opted to wait off to the side near the entrance, planning to go in once the doors had opened and the line had dissipated.  When we finally made our way into the madness, we could tell that all of the good stuff was gone.  I headed back to the electronics section, and this is what I saw:

I was so scared.  Luckily I found my way back to my in-laws, who had miraculously managed to score this baby from someone in the checkout line who realized that her mom, at another Target, had already scored the coveted item of the night:

It was OURS, all ours.  My in-laws were nice enough to pick it up for us as a Christmas gift, and now we are the proud owners of a living room TV whose image doesn’t burn itself into the screen when you push pause on the DVR.  It’s glorious.

I’m generally not a fan of Black Friday, mostly because of the crowds, having to stand uncomfortably close to strangers, and having to make snap decisions about buying things, which gives me lots of anxiety.  But we didn’t take it too seriously, and everybody came home happy.

Anybody else have an exciting Black Friday adventure?

Why Do You Hate Me So Much, Kate Middleton?

Kate Middleton doesn’t get out much, but when she does, she always looks impeccably put together.  She’s very pretty, not in a drop-dead-gorgeous-I-wish-I-had-your-face kind of way, but in a that-girl-who-used-to-babysit-us-when-our-parents-went-out-to-dinner-was-always-really-nice-looking kind of way.  She’s not cutting edge in the fashion sense, but she makes simple, well-made clothes look fancy and polished, which is not always easy to do.  The world could use more crew-neck sheath dresses (hint hint, Kardashians!).  Here are some of my favorite Kate ensembles, William included, as necessary.

THIS. COAT.  By Alexander McQueen, meaning it will never ever ever make its way into my closet.  ALSO.  Look at her face.  She’s the Jimmy Fallon of the royal family.  Or maybe she was sneezing, I don’t know.  Do princesses have allergies?

Who makes a military-inspired jacket and a BERET work the way she does?  WHO?!?  Nobody.  And look at her: even she knows this is true.

I love this plungey purple dress that Kate wore during their tour in Canada, but what I mostly love is the way she’s looking at William…probably because he’s sans tie and sans the first few buttons of his shirt.  Hubba hubba.

This one is a fave, not because of her outfit, but because of her bag.  LOOK AT THAT THING!  I’m obsessed.  For those of you who think Kate only shops at places like Zara and Topshop, let me burst your bubble.  This is a Mulberry Polly Push Lock bag, and it retails for $1300.  Also, her hair.  Looking at her hair, and then considering my own, it’s like, Why bother? You’ll never have hair as nice as Kate Middleton’s.  None of us will.  Except for my friend Amanda who lives in Miami with her exotic South American husband.  What are the rest of us even doing with our lives?!?

Even when Kate is walking on the beach wearing rain boots, she looks chic.  I don’t look this polished when I go to work, on a good day.  Not even in this ballpark.  And when I wear rain boots, they have sweatpants stuffed into them, and I have a hood pulled over my head and I’m probably bra-less because I just rolled out of bed at 6:00 a.m. and Buster had to pee and it’s raining and we don’t have a fenced in backyard so I had to suck it up and walk him outside. Like all the other peasants.

I, as a former college crew team member, would also like to point out that people who row do not wear these kinds of clothes.  Rowing outfits involve lots of spandex, really thick socks, nasty river water and regret.  Not adorable boat shoes and dangly earrings and skinny jeans that fit like a glove.  There aren’t any princes either.  Unless you row at Oxford, probably.

Lastly, this is Kate today in England at the opening of a children’s hospital.  There’s been a lot of speculation lately that Kate is pregnant, but in my totally non-professional opinion, there is NO WAY that she has a baby inside of her.  Kate is skinny as all get out, and if her eggo was preggo, she would not look like she does in this dress.

In conclusion, I really, truly appreciate how Kate has brought some sophistication into the modern, tabloid-driven world of fashion.  I just wish that in doing so, she didn’t make me feel so bad about myself.

The End.