Too Busy For A Real Meal

This morning was a hustle and bustle kind of day. Kids to school, get gas, hit Costco, grocery store and Home Depot… rush home to unload and then off to a different Home Depot to buy what I wanted. Kind of frustrating trying to get a patio set these days it seems. But I was successful in acquiring it!

What was great was the sales associate at Home Depot was happy to help me load up my car- it meant they didn’t need to find a place to store the set as it was on a palette and in the shipping area. Once at my vehicle- two more employees came to help load it up. Which was awesome! I strapped everything down and drove home.

I got home and my wife came to meet me in the driveway. I was taking the straps off and we took the table off the roof rack. The remaining benches and chairs were in my vehicle and very heavy! my wife made a comment that I should wait until I could get friends over to help move the set. At this point, some random jogger stopped and offer help to move it from my vehicle to the garage. Awesome! Totally appreciated it. Then he ran off.

Because of all my running around, I didn’t have time to make a nice lunch for myself. So I went old school living on my own style. Mac n’ Cheese with a can of tuna and a cheap beer on the side. Perfect for just myself. Honestly, who am I trying to impress these days?

I’m looking forward to the spring and summer when I can really enjoy the weather. Even the small glimpse of it was a nice addition to my day. But I want to give out a big cheers to the three Home Depot employees and the random jogger who helped me today! You guys are the mvps of my day! Thank you!

Costco Membership

On Saturday afternoon my wife and I braved the Costco hordes. Not the smartest thing to do. Parking was a nightmare (as it always is on a weekend). And everyone seemed grumpy. But we were there for something completely different than our regular shopping.

I finally got myself a Costco Membership. The last time my name was on a Costco Card was in 2004. I had needed it working at Chuck E Cheese’s for last minute food items.

My wife had been sharing a membership with her parents for nearly 20 years. It worked out that at one point my wife and her parents were technically at the same address when they signed up for the card. Everything was working well up until recently.

My wife used to have a work schedule she would be able to maneuver around in order to go shopping when it was slow. But since we moved, she has been working steady 8-4 Monday to Friday and is stuck late evenings to go shopping or the dreaded weekend.

Now it is my turn to do the grocery shopping. I have been going out on Thursday mornings after dropping the kids off at school. But since I couldn’t hit up Costco, she would have to go again for another shop. I’m legitimately thrilled that on my days off, I can do this shopping. It will allow for more quality time with the family not running errands anymore.

The challenge will be to not spend an abundance on things we do not need!

Mid-Trip in Mexico

In the middle of our vacation to Mexico, we decided to take a day on the beach. The beach first thing in the morning was impressively pristine. So we spent all day hanging out there.

Our friend, Megan, joined us while we relaxed. We had a few drinks, read our books, and frolicked in the ocean. I did my attempt at being David Hasslehoff running out of the ocean. The service was great as well, and the drinks kept coming.

Mid-day was a PCR test. We require this in order to get back into Canada. Not really a highlight, but it was quick and over with in a matter of moments. Soon we were back at the beach. That was when a couple of vendors came by selling jewelry, towels, blankets and dresses. I did my best negotiating and haggling and picked up a couple of souvenirs.

Shortly thereafter, my wife and I went to get a back massage on the beach. This was a fantastic way to relax and get those tense muscles loosened. The sound of the ocean in the background was tranquil and soothing.

Afterwards we headed out for dinner at the Teppanyaki again (it was by far the best experience for dinner). Once dinner was over, we headed to the theater and enjoyed a burlesque show. The theatrics and acrobatic dancing was intense. The show was well worth watching. My throat was sore from all of the hootin’ and hollerin’ I was doing.

It was another full day of relaxation and fun.

No Harm In Asking

This evening my wife and I went out to buy an artificial 9 foot Christmas tree for our home. Michael’s Craft Store had one on sale for half price. Instead of $500 it was $250. We hit the store, browsed a bit, then grabbed the tag that told us to take it to the cashier in order to get the tree. When we got to the cashier, she scanned the tag, but when she called to get the tree was told that they were out of stock.

Our cashier offered to check other stores for us. So she called the next nearest one, but they were also out. She also looked online for us, but again, no luck. Defeated, my wife and I left the store. We took it upon ourselves to try calling around at some stores that maybe I could get to and run a few other errands tomorrow. Again, no luck. Everywhere was out of stock. But one store made me think about a solution because they had mentioned what happened there.

Why not buy the floor model? So I called the store we had just left and asked. Within minutes, I was told “Yes”. They were even going to pack it back in the box for me. FANTASTIC! I was back to the store shortly thereafter. I going to get the tree my wife and I wanted! No more hunting around.

As I was driving back, my wife suggested I ask for a discount since it was the floor model. Hey, no harm in asking? It got us the tree already. When I got to the store, the cashier who was helping me earlier and her manager were packing up the tree for me already. I thanked them and “Dad Joked” that they could set it up for me at home after. They agreed to do it if we fed them. Banter went well, so I threw in the question, “Since it’s the floor model, how about adding a discount?”

“No problem. How about 10%? I’ll take it off at the till.”

Boom! Discount applied! But it gets better…

The 20 year old manager was unable to figure out in his head what 10% off $249 was. So he said, “How about I do $200 for the tree instead? Will that work?”

Um, yeah. Thank you. Ill gladly take 20% instead. Today’s lesson: no harm in asking. And math isn’t everyone’s strong suit.

Frugal February

Ever just go online and start searching for stuff to buy? Even though you don’t need it? I caught myself doing that last night. I came to the realization that I like to “window shop” but do eventually purchase something frivolous.

For example…

Last night I went onto Amazon and looked up men’s roller skates. Why? I dunno. Maybe because I had a pair of black boot roller skates as a pre-teen before my first pair of inline skates. I thought that maybe it would be neat to own a pair again.

Gorillaz

But it took me down a rabbit hole of accessories as well. Different wheels, knee pads, wrist guards, and even Bluetooth headphones. The type that looked 80’s retro. Why? No idea. It just seemed to match.

And that got me to look at 1up arcade games. I think it would be neat to have a collection of them. But at $400-600 each it seems a tad bit eccentric to own a few, even though I love the cabinet artwork.

In the end I didn’t buy anything useless. I am choosing to go with a “Frugal February” and not buy stuff. Besides the obvious necessities. I’m also thinking that I won’t spend money eating out. That would be a good addition to the “Frugal February” mentality.

Twelve Days Until Christmas

The home stretch is within sight everyone! Only a dozen days remaining until Christmas. Normally I’m out spending money frivolously about this time. Snatching up items that I think would help to fill out the gift piles of my wife and family. Most of those gifts just end up tossed in a drawer or the back of a closet before becoming landfill waste. Not this year however.

This year I am doing my part and staying home as much as possible. I feel as though I’ve already done my part in supporting local businesses and picked up some items a few weeks back. So staying home (when not at work) is also doing my part to keep myself and others healthy. No need to aimlessly wander the mall or stores trying to spend money that I don’t overly have to spend.

I don’t mind being at home during these final days of the year either. I get to enjoy some quality time with the family playing games and watching movies. Or just contemplating life as I stare at the decorations on our trees: Remembering when or where we picked up an ornament or two. And sometimes letting the lights catch my gaze until my vision becomes fuzzy and I feel warm inside.

It’s nice to just calm down and chill out. I forgot how wonderful it can be.

Add To Cart

It’s Cyber Monday in the year 2020. Which is kind of like every other day this year. It feels as though we have been doing more online shopping than ever before. In fact, statistics are showing that the majority of us are doing more online shopping this year than previous years.

Because of all the extra shopping online, we have become very conscious about shipping. Paying for shipping feels like a kick in the face. Free shipping is a favorite, but also one or two day shipping is important. I don’t know why really. Whatever I’m ordering online, I clearly didn’t need that quickly. But hey, if Amazon says it’ll show up by 8pm the next day- why wouldn’t I choose that option?

I sometimes enjoy the surprise of “What’s in the box?” as a parcel shows up on our doorstep. Especially the packages that have taken longer than a few days to arrive. As Christmas nears, we have to be careful not to open these boxes in front of the kids.

I have no reason to do online shopping today. So I’m not likely to get caught up in buying something just for the sake of saving money on it. I save even more money just not buying something I didn’t need. I’m looking in your direction Air Fryer.

So before you complete that transaction today, take a moment and decide if you really needed to “Add to Cart” in the first place. If you’re like me, you’ll probably think about it briefly and question your choice, but then purchase it anyways because it’ll arrive in two days and have free shipping. Because it’s such a good deal.

On a serious note, remember to support small businesses through your online purchasing as well. These businesses can’t always offer free shipping because the volume they sell is no where near Amazon or Walmart. But the joy you give someone by buying one of their items is far greater than you could imagine.

Pre-Christmas Online Fulfillments

Holy smokes have we been hitting the online purchases a bit heavy this year. My wife and I were a bit skeptical about the gifts arriving on time for Christmas. So we ordered in advance with plenty of time to spare.

This is the “condensed” version of what we have received so far. Amazon ships far too many packages with one or two items inside. It’s good in a way because we know that we are getting 90% of our stuff in time for the holidays. There’s a couple items set to arrive by December 22nd still. Which feels crazy in a world where we came accustomed to instant gratification.

I can’t really complain because we always choose the “Free Shipping” option. Sometimes it’s the next day, other times it could take a couple of weeks. Plus Amazon is great when you need to return an item or the item does a “no-show”.

All I need to do now is keep the kids out of the boxes and “Archive” the purchases so they don’t “accidentally” see an item that has been ordered. We all know how sneaky kids can be when it comes to finding out their Christmas gifts. I know I was pretty bad at spoiling the surprises for myself when I was younger.

Are you done shopping? Have you even started? Any horror stories of online shopping? Still looking for that perfect gift for your family members? Let me know in the comments.

One Week Remains

It’s getting down to crunch time! Only one shopping week remains to get that special gift for your special someone. Unless you are in a perfect relationship like I am- where my wife said to me, “You don’t have to get me anything for Christmas.”

That is not what I wanted to hear. I’m fairly certain that she’s lying. I’m no good at guessing games. So if she dropped hints all year long- its likely that I missed them.

My wife did however buy herself a few items and give them to me to wrap. I guess not knowing which gift is inside which wrap is good enough? At this stage in life, one may as well buy what they want and gift it to themselves. That way you’re not disappointed and display “Present Face” for those not-so-amazing gifts.

In the past I’ve bought her jewelry she doesn’t wear and craft supplies she doesn’t use. I’ve even picked up kitchen knives and dishes in the past. These are more for everyone, but I throw her name on them so she has something to unwrap.

Yup, Christmas gift giving to my wife has me turning into a husband cliché. I’m not sure how to break the cycle. Maybe one Christmas I’ll nail it. Until then, I wonder how late Walmart is open?

Thrift Store Shopping

I love doing thrift store shopping. Always have. Yesterday I took my daughter and her friend to a couple thrift stops. I’m always amazed at the variety of items you can find. We were mostly looking at clothes. My daughter and her friend found a couple dresses and jackets. They even convinced my son to buy a really tacky 90’s vest.

I found a nice Lacoste shirt and a velvet smoking jacket that I needed in my possession.

I did find some items that were amazing in their own way. I found an oil bottle that plays music when you lift it up.

But the best had to be the item I picked up for $2.50. We gave it to our oldest daughter and she loves it.

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This is one we will keep for years to come, much to my wife’s dismay. But almost everyone who has seen it wants it. It’s still one of my favorite thrift store finds.

Cyber Bully Monday

Maybe I just have a weak point in my brain and ego. But I got sucked into purchasing on Cyber Monday again this year. I feel as if society has bullied me into being a consumer whore. Buying up stuff on sale whether I need it or not.

Of course I couldn’t help but check out the deals on Amazon. Honestly, there’s always something I could buy. I think the Internet gods are watching over me a bit too closely and catering to my desires. Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, YouTube, etc… all show me things I want. I think they are watching me closely. One day I think Cyberdyne will be real. Wait, what? Moving right along…

Last week’s episode of Doctor Who took a shot at how wonderfully awful warehouse shipping centers can be. Even in the future where robots deliver packages the same day, there’s something both alarming and intriguing about this. For now I have to suffer with free two day shipping. No instant gratification quite yet like going to a store and braving a sea of people.

So ya.

I bought something online first thing this morning. A part of me is excited about it. And a part of me loathes myself for it. Too late now. I clicked on the check out and my item is being processed!

KERBLAM!

Walmart is Ugh

I went shopping today at Walmart.

I hated it.

I don’t like Walmart.

I prefer to go to local produce and grocery stores for my meats and vegetables. So I don’t buy that stuff at Walmart.

But when I want cheaply made goods at cheap prices from a brick and mortar store- Walmart is it. It’s instant gratification and I have my plastic crap in my possession.

Otherwise, most of my shopping is online. Amazon is pretty good for most of my needs. I don’t really need stuff immediately, so I can wait.

Ugh. Walmart.

This place is just so bright with artificial lighting and sketchy people. What if I’m the sketchy person? Not today Walmart. Not today am I the sketchy one. There’s a toddler steaming at the checkout line with purple lips from a can of soda… Even the employees are kinda not all there as the huddle in groups until a customer tries to approach. Then they scatter like cockroaches.

Ugh. Get me out of here.

Oh look! A deal on paper-towels and WWE t-shirts!

Time to leave. Ooo McDonald’s is in here as well…

FML

Crazy Rush


I always try and have everything set for the holidays a couple of days in advance.  Today is my own personal cut off day for shopping until after December 27th.  If I can avoid malls and shops for the next five days (or longer) I’ll be a happy man.  It’s totally doable.  

Gift purchases are long since done.  95% of them are even wrapped and ready for under the tree.  This was mostly done by my wife this year since I took on my new role at work.  A huge sigh of relief has come over me- knowing that I won’t need to hit a Walmart for that last minute gift.  Today was just loading up on groceries from Costco for the next few days.  Meat and cheeses were the main deals.  Now it’s time to focus on baking a few batches of cookies over the next couple days.


Only once did I ever brave the mall on a Christmas Eve to do some shopping.  I was 17 at the time and had just gotten paid.  I called a female friend come with me as I searched for a gift for my parents.  It was sort of date and magical in a sense.  We shared stories of our Christmas traditions and childhood Christmases.  We walked arm in arm through the stores as she helped me find something of value to gift my parents.  I found a set of glassware that was in my budget and seemed like a responsible gift.  I drove my friend home, gave her a hug and wished her a Merry Christmas.  

At the time, I was too shy to make a romantic move on her.  It just wasn’t meant to be.  We are still online friends to this day and she has a wonderful family.  I saw her last year in person at a Christmas craft fair and she still seems happy as ever.  She has a spot in my heart with a special memory of Christmas Eve.

Cyber Monday

Much like Black Friday, I avoided Cyber Monday.  There wasn’t any great deals to be had this year on the items people really want.  Unless of course you wanted to shove a bunch of cheap crap for Christmas under the tree to make the giving look extravagant.  Sometimes the hype of sales and spending sucks people in.  

But Santa isn’t real.


My wife and I do our shopping throughout the year, so we do stockpile some items for the family.  Necessities are always bought and used as needed- new pants/shoes/school supplies.  But things like videogames/movies/toys and those items that are a bit more “luxury” are saved for under the Christmas tree.  But of course as Christmas nears, we still look and discuss if there are any last minute (a month prior is last minute for us) items we should get.  Like I said, nothing this Black Friday/Cyber Monday was on our list of must own.


So today, my wife and I went out to a mall that my wife has never been to, and I haven’t been to in probably two decades.  It was dated.  Like 1980’s dated and brought in a bunch of memories for me.  Weird memories of shopping with my mom when I was a kid just before Christmas.  (That’s for a different blog post).  There was a toy store that time forgot (or the leasehold did) hidden in the middle.  Guaranteed people walked by it without giving it a second look because it didn’t say “GameStop” or “Toys-R-Us”.  I was fascinated by the store as my wife and I wandered through it.  They charged more than it should on items I could find elsewhere for cheaper.  Yet somehow, here it was- 3 decades later still holding on.

But this mall has all the regular stores that a Canadian mall has- “The Bay” “Sears” “The Gap” and every other mall related store in between.  We decided to stop in the “Apple Store” because my wife was hinting that she was thinking of getting me the Apple Watch 2.  I was giddy with excitement and hurried along to enter the store!

I was ready to hand over money…


I like my iPhone.  My kids love their iPad Mini.  I really wanted an Apple Watch.  As we waited to be helped, I played with the newest Apple Watch 2.  It’s sleek.  It’s elegant.  It’s wearable tech.  It’s all those things that the kid inside of me really wants.  When the Apple employee came over, I had a slew of questions.  My wife did not.  (This was my thing.  She never cared much for it.)  He started by apologizing to me that they were out of most of the styles because people came in over the weekend purchasing products even though there was no Black Friday Sale on Apple merchandise.  Sales hype gets people in the mood to spend.  

As we spoke, my interest in owning the watch diminished.  My wife could sense it.  The salesman could too.  The final thing that got me to realize that it wasn’t worth the money (to me at least) is that the battery has approximately 1000 charges and no way to replace it.  Roughly three years- longer if I only use the time display and none of the other functions.  Thanking him for his time, I walked away empty handed.  But I was ok with that.  My wife was a bit upset.  This was the gift she wanted to give me this year.


Spending $600 or more on me when I have a family and other responsibilities seems selfish.  Being able to say “I don’t need it” -and mean it- feels good.  Sure, now my wife feels she may be scrambling now for that perfect gift for me, but it’s better than getting something that I may end up feeling “meh” about later on.  The Apple Watch just isn’t what I want.  

I don’t know what I want for myself this holiday season.  All I really want is for my family to be happy.  It’s not about me.  It never was.  I’m sure one day, my wife will surprise me and blow me away with her thoughtfulness and extraordinary gift giving ability.  But as we left the Apple Store, she pointed out that I am very particular about what I want.  And shopping for me has never been easy.  

She still has a month to get me something that she deems worthy of “the gift” this year.  Good luck dear.

Shopping.  Not shopping.

This evening my wife and I had about an hour to kill while we were out.  So we decided to “go shopping”.  We didn’t need to buy anything in particular.  Food was fairly stocked up in our home, so groceries were off the list.  Thank goodness.  That’s when we usually run into people we know… 


Hitting Costco is like dropping a mortgage payment inadvertently while wandering around browsing- so we avoided that place as well.  We decided to look around at a Home/Bath/Bedroom place since we don’t normally go to those places.


We weren’t really looking to spend money.  It was more a way for us to discuss what changes to our home we’d like to do.  Maybe some new dishes?  Perhaps some hand towels?  Serving sets or small appliances?  We walked and talked for a nearly an hour in an empty large box retail store.  We noticed one sales associate kept following us, but never made contact.  It was eerie after a while.  Then it dawned on me, we didn’t have a shopping cart, we were constantly picking up items and putting them down.  At one point, my wife and I were “testing pillows” by laying down our heads on them while they were in the bin.  This lady following us must think we are trying to shoplift.  

My wife in her leggings, purse, and comfortable hoodie & me all clean cut in nice pants and a sweater were clearly there for a “five finger discount” at 8pm on a Monday night.  It was strange being stalked by an employee.  Needless to say we weren’t stealing, nor did we want to buy anything after that.  So we left.  We then headed over to the worst place for shopping ever- Walmart.

It was a wonderful sensation going in there.  We didn’t fit in.  I’m not saying we’re better off than other people, but, we’re better off than most Walmart shoppers.  Heck, the website People of Walmart is pretty dang accurate.  Especially in that odd time of day before closing…  Again, we just wandered around and as usual, just didn’t feel the need to spend money.


Walking away from a store without spending money really isn’t that tough.  But it made me realize that I don’t like “window shopping” anymore.  Everything I want, I can search out online.  Even the prices can be drastically lower.  Unfortunately, we spend way more now online…

So for me, the general shopping experience isn’t fun.  I don’t get a euphoric feeling spending money.  I don’t like to clutter my home with stuff (even though my home is cluttered with stuff).  In desperate times, my wife and I are usually “Pro Shoppers”.  Get in, get the goods, get out.  Wandering aimlessly isn’t our thing.  I’m cool with that.  More money in the bank for the important things in life.  

Like vacations!  Boy do I want to travel more.  That gives me a euphoric sensation, but that’s for a different post.