Saturday, April 25, 2009

"Surprise Day: Revealed"

Well, I guess you might say it was a “working surprise day.” After tying up some loose ends on the offer we are making on our first home — yep, I said new home, that’s a whole ‘nother three or four blog entries, there! — Craig made us a quick sandwich, and we were off to our first surprise destination.

We end up at Cracker Barrel, of all places, where we priced the rocking chairs which had caught our eyes the last time we met Craig’s parents there. We found out we could purchase chairs from their “scratch ‘n’ dent” category for half price. The worst wear we found on most of them was that the paint was scratched off at the end of the armrests. Craig summed it up by saying; “I would do that over the summer with my beer, anyway.” BINGO!!! They’ve got new shipments coming in regularly. We’ll find out when’s the one closest to our closing date and snatch them up then.

Next stop, Clark’s Appliances in Fleetwood, PA — the heart of Mennonite country. Clark’s is a small, family-run business where we got very careful informative service from one of the daughters. We went through all the various features of washers, dryers and refrigerators. We definitely made some informed decisions, but after over an hour of this, both of our heads were turning faster than an ultra-efficient spin-cycle. As we drove away and mulled over the items we picked, I realized that I never thought I would be this excited over appliances!

So, we relaxed for a bit, browsing at a home and garden center, daydreaming about what would look good at our new house, and then quickly reminding ourselves and each other that it’s not a done deal yet… we can’t get our hopes up until we have the keys. =)

And then we were off to beat closing time at the local dry goods store, where we stocked up on grains and beans and healthy snacks. So, a working surprise day. I’ll take it.
A girl can’t have diamonds every day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Surprise Blog"

Ahh… Surprise Day!

It’s one of the best days I ever came up with — not that I’ve come up with that many “days” — and I give myself major props for the idea. But, my work ends there. I have to say my husband Craig has done the best job with executing the concept, each with a fun, new, and exciting surprise.

It all started back in 2005 when our work schedules only gave us one day off together per week. With my modeling, sometimes we wouldn’t even have that. Instead of fighting the system (not that I would know how to do that, anyway ;) I came up with the brilliant idea of having Monday be the day one of us surprises the other with a fun activity to do.

My first go ‘round, I booked us some back-to-back full-body massages. (I must admit though, it really was Craig’s late birthday and Christmas gifts combined, but I do applaud my consolidation skills, and the massages were wonderful.) Craig’s turn and he takes us to Manayunk, near Philly for some used record shopping, a fabulous dinner, and a quiet walk along the river at twilight.

after the massages and before Manayunk, circa 2005

The following week was a little more low-key and he took us to the library, which was a lot more fun that that sounds. My turn, I bombed out by taking us to the car wash… NOT a good surprise day idea. I don’t think we even washed our cars.

So after my failed car wash idea Craig unofficially took over for surprise day, thank goodness. He has arranged a bunch of interesting and amusing plans. The Post Secret exhibit in Reading, PA, was extremely memorable, and just recently he included my Momma and took us to the beautiful Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, just outside Philadelphia.

The best surprise day ever was the day we got engaged on the beach. He played an impromptu mini-concert on his saxophone with the ring box stashed in the bell of his horn. At the end he pretended like there was something wrong with it and made me look inside to see what it was.

Yeah, pretty amazing!

full story

So here I am getting ready for another surprise day. Turns out it’s on a Tuesday this week.

What shall the day hold for me this time? I am sure it’s something fun, since Craig has his finger on it!

Check back soon for the update!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Service, or not?

It was imperative that I venture to the mall on Saturday. My chocolate frost eyeliner had been whittled down to the teeniest, tiniest pencil ever. As of Thursday, it had become non-existent. I was forced to use black eye liner.

This is tragic in my world. My efforts to rim my eyes with brown eye shadow weren’t futile, but I had to hit the mall before work.

It had been a busy week, and I was a little stressed that this had to be a quick power shop, instead of my usual browse, shop, coffee break, shop, repeat. The clock was ticking.

I met my mom at Macy’s. The place was mobbed with pre-holiday shoppers. Recession? Not here. At the counter an attractive, terse woman greeted me coolly. I took my cues from there and did my best to be precise and clear about what I needed. She checked for the precious chocolate frost eyeliner, coming back empty-handed to say they are out of that color. Without another word, she walks away and proceeds to service another waiting customer.

Is this thing on?

I stood there bewildered and I started to get angry. I looked at my mother and asked her, “Did that really just happen?!?!?”

So, I’m standing there with my mouth hanging open, contemplating leaving, when another sales lady named Cassandra asks if I am being helped. “Uh, well… there was a woman helping me, but after she told me the one item I was looking for was sold out, she left. So I am not sure if I am being helped anymore.” Cassandra immediately took over and started our interaction by exclaiming how pretty I was, and telling me that I look like I could work. My anger level subsided and I smiled in relief. Flattery doesn’t get you everywhere with me, but it is a start.

A light bulb goes on over her head, and she goes off and digs around in the cabinets behind the display cases. She brings over a gift set that consists of eye makeup remover, mascara and, drum roll, please the chocolate eyeliner I can’t do without! It covered all of my bases since I also needed the mascara. Plus, it comes in a cute little clear purple-striped cosmetic bag. Major bonus! Show me more!

So, without being pushy, and in very little time, my new best friend Cassandra was able to “up-sell” me into a fairly hefty Clinique purchase, and my mom and I still had time to grab a quick latte.

We could all use a little more Cassandra in our lives, both the being and receiving.

Monday, April 6, 2009

"It's all good"

“Oh, do I have a funny story for you,” I told a very dear friend today at her couples bridal shower, after she opened her gift from Craig and me.

Flashback to last week, when each day I would log onto the Bed Bath & Beyond website, and click these stunning Kate Spade champagne flutes into my shopping cart. “Do it! Buy them!” Craig would exclaim, but somehow, I wasn’t ready to click that orange button to finalize my sale. I just couldn’t. Maybe I had bills to pay first, or dishes to do before that. I’d get going, and before I knew it, it was time to get ready for work. “It will be okay,” I would say to myself. “Tomorrow we’ll get it all together, and I’ll order those glasses.”

Well, tomorrow would come, as it always does, but I kept having something else pop up and distract me, until last Sunday evening. I was finally ready to do it. But when I loaded the page with the flutes, I came upon the dreaded, “This item has already been purchased.”

Procrastination 5,674; Bex: 721

Craig didn’t understand. He thought I’d bought them days ago. We quibbled. I beat myself up.

So, Plan B? We headed up to the local store, and opted for a “fun” gift, instead — a Belgian waffle iron. I purchased very cool gift paper from Hallmark, and paired it with wide black ribbon and finished it with a rhinestone decoration. Craig used his O.C.D. skills with the wrap job, and I wrote a little message in the card. The looks on their faces were priceless when they opened our gift. The champagne flutes were a big hit, too, sent from a friend who was unable to attend, but one of them had broken in shipping. That would have upset me if we’d gotten them that, but this way Nat will just take care of it, and the friend never needs to know. Everybody’s happy.

So, I guess it all worked out. I was right where I needed to be all along. Maybe I can try to remind myself of this little story the next time I second-guess my intuition.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"The Shrinking States of Toni"

We are coming upon the season finale of the new Showtime series, “The United States of Tara.” For those of you aren’t familiar with the show, it follows the trials of a woman with multiple personalities, and how it affects her family. Toni Collette is the main character and does one fantastic job. But let me take you back 15 years to when we were introduced to Toni in a movie called “Muriel’s Wedding.” It definitely had your share of “cheese,” but she played a beautiful, curvy woman with insecurities, trying to find friendship and love. I was drawn to her realness and beauty from here.

Fast forward to “The Sixth Sense.” She was Haley Joel Osment’s mom in that one —yeah, even my mom didn’t believe me on that fact — and I felt she was downplayed for the entire show. Fine, that’s a stepping-stone role to the mainstream, so I guess I understood. Then, push the button a little farther to her next memorable turn, “In Her Shoes,” with Cameron Diaz. In this film, she plays a successful, curvy (or, shall we say, “real-sized”) woman, and we observe her relations with her skinny, flighty, undependable sister. One step forward for curvy girls! But in the back of my head, the whole time, I was thinking to myself, “Well, they keep calling her fat, but she’s really not that big…” and, it’s the Diaz character who’s allowed to grow and develop.

Now, with “The United States of Tara,” I have noticed an extreme shift in Toni’s weight. She has definitely become an "actor” with this show, but why does it seem that this notoriety comes with the shedding of pounds? The weight of any talented actress always seems to drop when she starts to become “noticed.” Kate Winslet, anyone?!?!?!

It seems as if a curvy actress needs to start off being plus-sized, and portray herself in such a way — take the back seat and the brunt of a bunch of jokes — but before she is regarded as a “talented actor,” she must shed a bunch of pounds and fit the mold of the typical Hollywood waif.

I guess it makes me feel that success in the entertainment industry is all that more unattainable. So, what? I not only have to hone my acting chops to a razor’s edge, but I must attain an underweight body type, as well?

I’m not bitter. I’m just confused.