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Monthly Archives: September 2011
Our fearless leader came in today with some very appropriate gifts. Appropriate because at UsedEverywhere we do in fact have job titles that change as often as the weather does here on the West Coast. For those of you not so lucky, I literally carry an umbrella and sunglasses with me every single day of the year. Never know what’s going to happen 10 minutes from now.
I digress. What she brought in were HATS. Not practical items like berets or fedoras or toques-eh, but crazy, wacky, goofy party hats. And they weren’t even for Halloween, believe it or not.
The story behind this is that her father loves hats, and that’s why she also enjoys a noggin-warmer on occasion. She grew up knowing that every birthday, baptism, hanukah and 6-month anniversary was really only an excuse to buy a nifty hat. So her father’s birthday is this weekend and she bought a bag full of hats. Everything from pirates (ARRrrrggghh) to kings, police officers, and whatever that gold one is with the white feather in it is for (help here?).
So naturally we had to get the most serious guy in the office to try one on.
Enter Nick, stage left…
“He doesn’t look so scary,” you say. Sure, sure, but just you try to go up against him in a deal or an argument – he’ll win every time. Quite the negotiator, that one.
Next came “Team Blue” – because the table has only boys at it, whereas other tables have a mix, well except for team pink of course (just guess who’s at that one).
If you don’t get the reference to the beanies with propellers on them… check out Wikipedia’s definition of propellerheads: “slang for a nerd.” Simple, to the point, and somewhat true. (Burn from Team Pink). Just please don’t ask them if I’M a nerd; whatever they say is a lie. Period.
So there you go, a dress up party and a little healthy inter-office competition.
There is probably nothing worse than spending a ton of money on a Halloween costume you know you’ll never wear again – with the exception of maybe next Halloween. Here’s a wild idea: let’s talk about Halloween costumes from stuff you already have or things that are generally useful in your wardrobe.
- Pinstripe pants On Halloween: pair with with a fedora, a white tank top, pumps and suspenders and there you have it, a 1940′s gangster (fake pistol optional but not advisable if you’re heading out, well, in public). In real life: pair with a button-down, cardigan and colourful pumps for the office.
- Pleather leggings Considered scary and tacky by some and stylish and fun by others, there’s no denying this item has serious costume potential. On Halloween: There’s actually two options! Either tough-looking high-heel boots, a black top and a cat mask or ears to transform into Catwoman, or an off the shoulder black top, curly hair and red pumps and lipstick to become Sandy from Grease. In real life: pair with a tunic-length (read: longer and tush-covering) white shirt, black blazer and cute flats for a modern pseudo-suit.
- Gladiator sandals I know you have a pair of these in your closet! On Halloween: pair with an empire-waist white maxi dress, gold jewellery and a wreath of leaves on your head and you’re an enchanting Greek goddess. In real life: pair with… well, pretty much anything. They might be out of season now, but when summer rolls around again you’ll be wearing them daily.
- Horizontal stripes On Halloween: grab a navy and white horizontal stripe top, pair with white or navy pants, red pumps and a Captain’s hat and there you have it, a sophisticated sailor! Oh, maybe toss an anchor necklace on for good measure. In real life: top the shirt with a blazer, a great scarf and finish off with dark skinny jeans and boots and you have a look that is quite Parisian indeed.
- To round out the top 5, I’m going to share my personal favourite Halloween costume. It might not be overly surprising that I’ve gotten made fun of because of my name a few times, but a few years back I decided to make fun of myself. I borrowed a green dress from a friend, wrapped a fake plastic snake around my neck, put flowers in my hair, found some apple earrings and even carried around Barbie and Ken to become… The Garden of Eden! See how clever I am? I knew you’d think so. A variation of this costume would be to lose the snake and dolls and grab some wings, and then you’re a fairy! Or… a butterfly. Ah, overwhelmed by the choices.
I guess I told a pretty funny joke the other night. I was out with some girlfriends who all happen to be moms, and I asked them, “So did any of you ever cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner in your first year as a mom? They all gave me this strange look and then suddenly the table erupted with laughter! My one friend replied, “ Are you kidding me? I didn’t even get to pee by myself for the first year! How the heck was I supposed to cook a turkey ?” Everyone else at the table agreed with this statement.
I was pretty surprised. I always thought those Martha Stewart maternal instincts to cook a big holiday meal, kick in once you have a baby…guess I was wrong. Personally I haven’t been feeling them myself either…I was just toying with the idea because I thought it was something I was supposed do now that I’m a mother.
Good thing I checked with my friends before attempting such a crazy feat. Whew! The pressure is off and I feel much better realizing it’s okay to not be “Super Mom” right away and maybe let someone else cook Thanksgiving dinner for me this year.
So my advice (and the advice of my girlfriends) to those current first time moms with small babies, is to accept those invitations to attend a Thanksgiving dinner at someone else’s house this year. If your mother invites you over, say “Yes”! If your best friend invites you over, say “Yes”! If your mother-in-law invites you over…check with the first two options first and if they say no, then say “yes” to her.(Just kidding…love you Thelma!)
But if you’re like me, you don’t feel right coming to a dinner empty handed so I have the perfect Thanksgiving dish for you to bring: Schwartzie Potatoes!!! They take practically no effort and very little time and people will beg you for the recipe once they’ve tried it. Here you go:
2 lbs frozen hash browns (you can also use fresh potatoes but this is way easier!)
2 cups sour cream ( you can use light sour cream if you want to pretend this is healthy. lol)
2 (10 ounce) cans cream of mushroom soup ( I use cream of chicken soup cause I hate mushrooms)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup onions, grated ( to taste)
1 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon pepper (to taste)
2 cups cheddar cheese grated
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated ( to taste)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Thaw frozen hash browns ( just a little bit)
- Mix all but the parmesan with the potatoes.
- Transfer this mix to a presprayed 9X13 inch baking dish ( I prefer a glass one)
- Sprinkle the parmesan over the top.
- Bake at 350F for 60-90 minutes (depending on your oven temp…I would highly recommend getting an oven thermometer..very handy)
- Voila! Delicious Schwartzies!
Now, I know this is definitely not the healthiest dish in the world, but man do they taste good! Besides, isn’t Thanksgiving also about being thankful you have the rest of the year (or at least until Christmas) to work off those two plates of turkey dinner? I believe it is!
Once upon a time I found a roll of a fabulous vintage wallpaper at my local Value Village. This was a very rare sighting. Leftover rolls of wallpaper at ValVill are commonly the 1980s variety – too heavy on the pinks and dark greens – or something from a child’s nursery… neither of which interests me very much.
This particular roll tugged at my heart. I had to have it.
Well, that was two years ago. A tiny fraction of it has since covered a school textbook, which worked pretty well (excuse the poor lighting here):
… but that’s it. I’m not brave enough to cover a wall with this stuff, but there has to be another way I can use it.
Maybe I could make envelopes out of it. Or cut out some shapes and make wall art? Or laminate it to use as placemats? (Ohhh, there are a whole bunch of neat ideas here!) If I can’t figure it out soon my roll of vintage wallpaper will be going up on UsedOttawa. I hear it’s a fairly sought-after item.
One of my guy friends asked me what I was doing this weekend and I told him I was going to a Baby Fair. His reply was, “Is that where people go to bid on babies?” An honest mistake I thought, as I may have thought this a few years ago before kids were a factor in my life. Anyhoo, after attending the Vancouver Island Baby Fair this weekend for the first time, I can safely say that NO babies were auctioned off but you could definitely find practically everything else baby related to buy.
I bought a weekend pass thinking “why would you need two days to go to a baby fair?” As I walked through the front door of the arena, I realized why… this baby fair was huge!! Booths as far as the eye could see. I couldn’t believe there were so many businesses out there specializing in baby products and services. And most of them were locally owned by moms and parents so it felt great to buy stuff knowing you were helping support your local community.
There were a ton of booths selling adorable baby clothing, each with their own unique designs or specialty items like bamboo swaddlers and organic onsies. Here are a couple of neat items I found:
I was quite surprised at the wide variety of stalls showcasing services for babies…baby skin care, baby acupuncture, baby chiropractors, baby astrology (I’m not kidding) as well as booths with information on child education, sports programs, insurance, jewelry, children events…the list goes on and on.
I ran into the usedvictoria.com crew raffling off some cool baby items you can find on their site. Looks like Andrea chose some pretty some good items as people kept asking them if they could buy the items on the spot. (Sorry you’ve got to go to their site):
My husband had a funny thing happen to him. I had left him with the stroller to go check out a booth and a guy approached him asking him he was interested in any marriage counselling. His reply was “Dude, do you really think I would come to this if I needed marriage counselling?” LOL. I would agree that you definitely have a strong marriage if you can convince your husband to spend four hours on a weekend surrounded by hundreds of moms salivating over all things baby!
I spend a fair bit of time combing the UsedEverywhere.com city sites and I come across all sorts of things I would like to buy. My wish list grows daily and this beautiful milk glass nesting hen salt cellar just got added. It got added real good.
Life gets really crazy sometimes. Things change, holidays approach and pass; you move, you get busy, you get bored. But there comes a time when you have to be real with yourself and say, “Ugh… I have to go back to the gym.”
I had that realization recently, after a summer of fun and hard work and a substantial neglect of my health. Sure, I’d make it to the treadmill once in a while, but July rolled around and even that seemed to fall apart. I went for the occasional jog although I admit that I hate running outside when I’m out of shape. I even popped in some of my mom’s workout DVD’s when I was visiting her in PEI (don’t laugh – that Jillian Michaelsmakes a mean 20 minute workout). But it wasn’t until I got home that I decided to get serious… I joined a gym. One of those hardcore ones, not even the ones I’m used to. As in, the community centre weight rooms or University gyms that I always seemed to attend at the same time as the rowing team’s training sessions (involving lots of yelling from the coaches, not unlike my dear friend Ms. Michaels).
Nope, I joined one of those gyms that has a schedule of classes that runs from 6 am to 10 pm almost every day. The kind with real life trainers and their own line of protein bars. I had measurements done, VO2 max tested, and even stepped on a scale that spat out a piece of paper informing my trainer that I was dehydrated (science!). Why would I engage in such health masochism, you ask? Maybe I got tired of being in pretty decent shape. I guess it just wasn’t cutting it anymore, so I did the unthinkable and got… a trainer.
I made the mistake of telling the girls at the gym that I’m a soccer player. That news spread like wildfire, and the lovely trainer Katherine got wind of it as well. She saw me and said, “Ah, so you’re the soccer player? Strong legs, I like it.” After a couple sets of exercises she said, “Hm, you’re one of those girls who could squat for days, hey? Let’s do some push-ups.”
Ladies and gentlemen, she’s found my weakness. Modified push-ups. And burpees, which involve modified push-ups. I know what you’re thinking, and yes I did bring this upon myself. I’m going to go ice my arms now.
Stay healthy, my friends.
Hey! How easy and awesome is this Halloween craft from The Swell Life? Very. I intend to get some mileage out of this one and make some up for my Thanksgiving table. Those little pumpkins keep forEVER. Hello, upscale.
The infamous Bumbo…what the heck is this magical device that all new mothers now crave? As a follow up to my last blog post, I thought I would elaborate for those of you who were wondering all week “Isn’t that Dumbo’s Mom?” No, Dumbo’s Mom is Mrs. Jumbo…
So the first time I saw a Bumbo was on the The Ellen Degeneres Show two years ago. She was having her annual mother’s day special where pregnant ladies walk away with thousands of dollars worth of the newest baby products for free (Sadly, I didn’t make the cut last year.)
She brought out this small foam seat and everyone went crazy! I couldn’t figure out why…it just looked like a modern day booster seat from McDonald’s. Then, while I was pregnant, I kept hearing from my mom friends that this device was amazing and a must have. So obviously, being the new mom on the block, I wanted to see what all the fuss what about.
I bought a used Bumbo about 3 weeks ago when my son was 3 months old as they say you have to wait until your baby can hold his head up in order to use it. It is supposed to help teach your baby to sit up as well as allows him to see things from a new perspective.
There are no instructions or manuals required with this device…you simply plop your baby into it and then stare intently at him to see what he does. And the answer is…drum roll, please…Nothing!!! With my little boy there was no smile, no frown, no crying – just confusion. He simply sat there with a look on his face like I had just transported him to an alien planet:
I mean, it doesn’t vibrate or make noise or light up like all of his other favourite toys so why does he need this thing? Turns out it’s not really a play toy for the baby as much as a convenient device for mommy.
For instance, when I need to answer the phone or get dinner ready, I just place him in the Bumbo to free up my hands. Plus he can watch what I’m doing which is what’s fun for him. A few things to be aware of though:
- You need to be in the room with him the entire time (it’s NOT a babysitter!) as there is a possibility they can tip over.
- DO NOT put the Bumbo on a countertop or table top…the company says you can do this but there have been several instances where a baby has tipped over and fallen to the ground…very scary! Keep the Bumbo on the ground.
- 3 months may be a bit early for your baby unless he is a real chunky monkey. As you can see, my guy is long and lean and can’t fill out the seat yet so he always ends up leaning to the right (as seen above.)
All in all, I would say the Bumbo is a good investment but only if you buy it used. You don’t want to spend $80 to find out that your baby absolutely hates it (“screamed bloodly murder” is what one of my friends described) and then you’re out $40 right away. If you buy it used ($35-$40 is a good price to pay) you can at least turn around and resell it right away to make your money back. You can also resell it once you’re done using it as it’s super durable and easy to clean.
For those of you who already have Bumbos, I’d love to hear your experiences!