You get what you pay for and other -isms

If ever there were a catchphrase that embodied me, it would be, “You get what you pay for.” I have stood by this time and time again and it continually rings true. That isn’t to say you can’t get a sweet deal at Dollar Tree – you can. (Especially at Christmastime – wrapping paper and tags helloooo!) But you know you’re not going to throw a fit if you buy a glass from Dollar Tree and it breaks in a week because hey, it was just a dollar. You can go back and get another. You can laugh and go, “Well we got a dollar’s worth of use out of it.”

I have yet to find a situation or product to which this aphorism is not apropos. When I bought my first real designer purse a few years ago (a Coach, if you must know), I got my money’s worth. There is a huge, vast difference between buttery, hand-crafted leather, heavy zippers, silk or satin lining, and quality hardware on a purse versus what one can buy at Target, Kohl’s or Marshall’s. And I rocked a purse from Target in New York City when I first lived there. I got my twenty-five bucks worth and then some; and then I was able to throw it away when it fell apart on me.

I purchased my very first Kate Spade bag in May and it’s everything I thought it would be and more. Totally worth making my credit card cry. It’s been a dreamboat of a handbag, if that makes sense. And! I know that by properly taking care of it, I will get years of use out of it.

My dearest dude Kevin thought I bought into this whole thing a little too much but even he has had to concede the point much more as of late. Like my search for good moisturizer, he has been seeking out a pair of sunglasses that don’t crap out on him within two days. He went through two different pairs in a week before he relented and let me take him to a couple of places where he’d have to actually drop more than $30 (or $80, or $100) on sunglasses. I know what you’re thinking. At a certain price point, sunglasses become overpriced plastic. And you’re right! But there is a “sweet spot” with sunglasses and dropping $100-150 for a pair isn’t unheard of. These designers know what they’re doing.

Though we tried and tried and tried to find something at a reasonable price, there was nothing to be found that would fit him well, be comfortable and be worth the money. We landed at Sunglass Hut where all the designer sunglasses strutted their stuff and eventually he settled on an “inexpensive” pair of Ray Bans. $160 later, he is the hap-hap-happiest cool shades wearing guy out there – and they look great on him, too. Anytime I see them sitting out, I nudge him (by mentioning their price) to put them back in their hard case. It’s very motivating.

If any of you do not believe that “you get what you pay for,” I’d love to hear why not! If you do, what are you willing to pay a high price for? Sheets? Makeup? Silverware? (For me, all three.)

~~~

Writing about that catchphrase got me thinking about other colloquialisms and aphorisms that are pretty common – some more applicable than others.

  • When it rains it pours. Pretty self-explanatory. And something I am currently dealing with, if I’m gonna get all personal. It can’t be just one thing, it has to be a slew of things happening all at once, right?
  • Everything happens for a reason. I want to punch someone when I hear this one.
  • A stitch in time saves nine. Whatever.
  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. This one I actually kind of buy into, as well, because I am definitely a person who’d rather not take the risk and have something guaranteed, rather than gamble on gaining more.
  • Right church, wrong pew. I don’t quite know what this means but it’s funny and a friend knew it off the top of her head.
  • Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Yes! Though hardly anyone “gifts” horses anymore, if you do get one, don’t check its teeth. Just say thank you.
  • Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. A little confusing but basically it boils down to not doing something stupid and self-destructive out of revenge or hatred, because it’s just going to do you more harm than good.
  • Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. My mother LOVES this phrase. It is irritating to hear when I want to overgeneralize and overreact, however.
  • There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Ew. But…also true.

Add in your favorite in a comment below!

“Happy” Tuesday – at least I hope you all are having a good one. I’m still mucking it up in the rain.

My 8 is your 6.

I can’t fight it any longer. I thought I could conform. But I’m relenting and just letting it be the way it is.

I, Zoe, am here to announce that not only am I a night owl, but I am not an early morning person. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy being awake in the morning. It’s not like if I wake up at 11am, I’m pissed off. But I’ve come to the conclusion that pretty much anything before 8am is awful and unnecessary. For me. You could be bright and chipper at 5am and if that works for you, that is fantastic. I don’t understand it but I will still applaud anyone who is able to follow their own body’s natural rhythms.

I like to stay up late – I always have. In high school, when classes started at dawn (8am sharp), I still went to bed at midnight to get up at 6 or 6:30. I remember standing in the shower, freezing cold as I had been wrenched from my warm bed and trying to get the water super hot, while at the same time also doing everything in my power to not give in and sit down on the shower floor and doze. (I gave in to this temptation on occasion, not gonna lie.)

I’m pretty sure I am a third generation night owl. Both of my parents have never been early-to-bed people. My dad is much less a night owl now than my mom, but my mom and her sisters are definitely late night people, where going to bed early is 1am.

For whatever reason, I “come alive” after 10pm. If I start doing something that absorbs my attention and energy (like editing photos, for example), I can do this for hours and not look up at the clock until it’s well after 12:30. The opposite happens for me if I’m up before 7:30 or 8am – I am completely dead and lethargic and I have to use every fiber of my being to stay awake and not be angry that I’m awake.

My problem is, is that even though my better judgment tells me to pack up and go to sleep, my inner night owl is shrieking at me. It’s throwing a temper tantrum at the thought of going to bed before 12am. And honestly, going to bed at midnight and getting up at 8 is totally reasonable for me. That feels natural. But for modern day society where a decent work hour begins at 8 or 8:30am, this becomes an issue. I have lost count how many times I’ve tried setting the alarm for 6:45 or even 7:15, vowing that tomorrow is going to be THE DAY I start my new waking-up-early routine. It never lasts.

Waking up early is like going on the South Beach Diet. You can stay strict for about a week or two before you totally lose your mind and binge on carbs. (You know what I mean.) I just can’t keep at it.

Those who have no problem waking up at 6am or earlier? That’s great – really. (Baffling! But great.) Essentially, your 6 is my 8. Eight o’clock is still a totally reasonable time to be up and get productive before it’s lunchtime. However, we’re strapped in by society’s demands that we all show up at an unreasonably early hour to get our day started. If I had my own business, I’d have the official work day start at 9:30 or 10. 9:30 is pushing it, though. My first job out of college, the work day started at 10am. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. People actually thought you were strange if you showed up before 10. I’m serious.

The only way this “natural body rhythm plan” of mine can work is if my dearest other half doesn’t mind if I start doing a bed-at-midnight-rise-at-8am schedule. I haven’t exactly consulted him about it yet. But I suppose he’ll read this post and then we’ll have a little chat. (Did I mention he likes to go to bed and get up early? He could sleep from 7pm-7am, though. He’s a sleeper.)

For the time being, I can bask in the knowledge that getting up at 8 still affords me to get to work by 9 since I don’t live in a city with tons of congestion during rush hour. I refuse to feel guilty or shunned about this any longer. I am freeing myself of the bonds of waking-up-earlydom. Eight is early enough, dammit.

So yeah, that’s pretty much it. Let freedom ring. Thank you and enjoy your weekend.

P.S. What’s up with early bird vs. night owl? Why has the bird become THE animal symbol on this topic?

Sorry I’m A Safe Driver, and: I Hate Minivans

I have a bone to pick with minivan drivers. What is the deal? You either drive way too fast or way too slow. Can’t you just drive normally? I can’t help but feel like some of the rude driving I’ve seen happen with these vehicles is because there is pent up rage from owning one of these ugly things. I’m in the minority in that I am a woman who has no desire whatsoever to have one. My male counterpart couldn’t want one more, inexplicably.

I can’t even count how many times I’ve been on road trips and the cars that are going 85 and being obnoxious are minivans (usually male drivers). I smiled the other day when I was coming to an intersection and saw that a minivan had been pulled over, presumably for speeding or having just run the light. I couldn’t help but feel vindicated for what had transpired earlier that same day. Shall I relay the story?

So that same morning, as I was sitting in the left turn lane at a busy intersection – and I was the first car in the turn lane, mind you – there was no chance for me to turn left against the regular green light, so I knew I was going to have to sit through another cycle before I got the arrow. Right as the light was about to turn, a minivan drives around me from being in the turn lane and proceeded to go out into the middle of the intersection, turning left against the red light. Thank God s/he had the turn signal on or it would have been REALLY obnoxious.

You can bet your sweet bippy I honked at this foul offender, whilst also spewing some choice epithets after him/her. (I’m assuming it was a man but who’s really to say.) Pretty much, this was my face:

When I told my boyfriend the same story in a really appalled tone, he took the opportunity (after agreeing that it had been a dick move) to say, “But you know, if you’d been pulled out into the intersection, he wouldn’t have done that.”

What ensued after this statement was a huge debate about whether or not it’s illegal and/or courteous to pull out mid-intersection to turn left. This must be a “Champaign thing.” Where I grew up in St. Louis, there are very few lights which do not have green arrows, so we know exactly when we can turn. Having to sit at a busy intersection with no green arrow is not only infuriating, but basically encourages this crappy driver etiquette. And this was a light where we had a green arrow! It only lights every other cycle for some odd reason, though. Being rush hour traffic, I really had no opportunity to turn.

Anyway, although we are both good drivers, the boyfriend and I disagree on several driving habits, this being the main one. Apparently I’m the jerk for not pulling all the way out and waiting for the light to turn, even if it’s when the light has turned red and I just have to get out of the way; whereas I can’t help but feel like an a-hole if I pull that stunt. It happens so often here and yet, I still hate doing it. I feel like I’m basically running a red light when I do this. Kevin insists it is perfectly legal. I have not been swayed. Our debate escalated to the point where, in a very frustrated moment I blurted out, “Sorry I’m a safe driver!”

You just never know who is going to do what when crossing an intersection and I don’t like sitting in the middle of the action when I can sit behind my safe little white line that was designated for this purpose. Am I right or am I right or am I right?

Okay, back to my original diatribe about minivans. I find them ugly, bulbous, and too similar looking. They’re everywhere. Plus, I don’t want to turn into Shitty Minivan Driver. I understand that if one has lots of children, these are probably Dream Modes of Transportation. Since I have zero children, this definitely accounts for the strong bias. I just don’t understand what a minivan has that say, a nice-looking SUV or crossover doesn’t have. I’d really like to know. Being the aesthetic person that I am, it’s more of a looks thing than it is a stereotype thing, but the stereotype does play into my dislike. I also know that there are folks out there who SWEAR by minivans and would never drive anything else. I’d like to hear from you!

For whatever reasons that Kevin adores minivans – all of them practical, I assure you – we have actually gotten into a heated debate about why we may or may not purchase one in our future solidified life together. I am adamantly opposed (has that been made clear?) and he is insistent on changing my mind. He finds them to be the pinnacle purchase in adulthood, I think. Strangely enough, Kevin’s best friend is also the one in his relationship who prefers to have a minivan and his wife is the one that has the same knee-jerk reaction I do: Yick! So they have that to bond over, which is cute and funny.

If anyone out there can shed some light on the intersection debate or tell me all the merits of owning a minivan, I’d love the feedback! I can’t fathom changing my mind about ever wanting to own a minivan but never say never, right? I think Justin Bieber never says never. Or he just says, “Never Say Never.” One of those.

In the meantime, I will bask in the glory of sedan ownership.

**Edit March 2017** — a couple of weeks ago, I was at an extremely busy intersection during the 5 o’clock rush home. I needed to turn left across two oncoming lanes of traffic, and the intersection is quite wide. It’s easy to underestimate how much time it takes to cross those lanes with two lanes of traffic barreling down on you. Because of the heavy traffic, I stayed behind my little white line at the light. A woman raced up behind me and, when she realized I wasn’t going to move out into traffic, shook her head at me. She was older, perhaps in her 50s or 60s. I saw her grimace and shake her head in my rearview mirror. I decided to fight her crankiness with silliness and I happily waved at her. She saw me waving and lightened up (slightly) and half-heartedly waved back at me. (I like to think that she felt a little embarrassed, perhaps thinking I knew her, and she is only comfortable doing that to strangers instead of people she knows.) The light went red and we sat through another cycle until I was able to safely cross with a green arrow. My husband still asserts that he sided with the lady behind me but I like to think that being cautious saved myself and possibly the woman behind me from making a poor driving decision and getting into an accident. The “Sliding Doors” theory, if you will.

Please Reheat Responsibly.

The following may or may not have had to do with my experiences in several offices in my lifetime. This is long overdue.

While bringing in leftover tuna casserole seems like an incredible idea, because you know, it tasted oh so delicious when it was fresh out of the oven last night, you have no idea what this is going to smell like when you microwave it in an enclosed space. Indeed, an entire small office or whole section of a large one will definitely reek of day-old baked fish and cheese for hours if you make this decision. Kindly don’t.

Who doesn’t love the smell of buttery popcorn? On the other hand, burnt popcorn smells like one of two things: a) Satan’s indigestion or b) burning hair. Ergo, please know how to make popcorn in the microwave (i.e., listen for the slowing down of the popping kernels and check that a burn hole isn’t being made on the bag).

Mmm, leftover spaghetti with meatballs. What’s that? You underestimated how quickly the tomato sauce would heat up and now there’s an explosion of red sauce clinging to every available surface on the inside of the microwave? Please grab some wet paper towels and wipe it down. The question, “Do you do this at home?” shouldn’t be asked because it’s clear that it is what you do at home. So the real issue is that you’re NOT at home and you SHOULD be courteous to anyone else who wants to use the microwave after you. It takes way less time to clean up freshly exploded sauce than dried on sauce.

Use your best judgment. If it is made with lots of salty chemicals and preservatives, most likely it’s going to make the entire kitchen and surrounding area smell like reheated cat food. Unless you’re this lady, none of us are interested. In fact, some of us may become severely nauseated.

Other no-nos:

Cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, have I mentioned fish?, sauerkraut, etc. These are NOT to be microwaved in a communal setting.


And for the love of God, please don’t use the microwave as a drying agent. A friend of mine actually had a coworker attempt to dry his wet shoes in the office microwave. Needless to say, it created a foulness that no human should ever have to witness through his or her nose.


This has been a public service announcement. Please pass along as appropriate.

First Photography Post! “The Junk Shoes”

This morning, I asked Kevin if he would mind very much if I threw out his beat up pair of New Balance shoes since he’d gotten some new ones for Christmas.

“I need a pair of junk shoes,” he replied, “so don’t throw those out. But I’d be happy to throw out the even older pair of shoes than those.”

My mouth went agape. He had shoes older and crappier than the ones in my hand?

He did. He really, really did.

Behold, Kevin’s super incredibly old junk shoes that loveliness forgot long ago:

They were so decrepit and time worn that I immediately pulled out my camera and started snapping photos.

Slightly confused at what I was doing, he asked, “Why are you taking pictures of my nasty shoes?”

“Because I’m going to blog about them, of course,” I answered breezily.

Now it was his turn to look aghast.

“You’re…going to blog about this?” he asked me uneasily.

“Yep!” He was out of options. The photos were quickly accumulating on my camera.

Since he couldn’t do anything about it, he got into the spirit and finally started showing off all the “features” of the shoes that told me they should have been in a landfill a couple of years ago. Here’s the hole he highlighted for me:

And another:

There’s nothing else to say except thank God he has me around.

——–

Author’s note: This is my very first “real” photography post. I know that the post that had the picture of the gas light being lit technically holds that title but I felt I had more depth and artistic creation with this pair of shoes, so I have dubbed this post with said worthy title. Thanks for sharing with me in my creative journey! Feel free to leave any feedback, whether it’s about the craptastic shoes that Kevin was still willing to wear while doing “junk work,” or how I shot them.

Cookie Exchange Fail

Last week, I got a really cute email forward from a friend. It was entitled Cookie Exchange! Here are the rules:

I’m participating in a collective and hopefully tasty experiment. As such:

You have been invited to be part of a recipe exchange concept. I hope you will participate. I’ve picked those who I think would make this fun. Please send a recipe to the person whose name is in position 1 (even if you don’t know him/her) and it should be something quick, easy and without rare ingredients. Actually, the best one is the one you know in your head and can type out right now. Don’t agonize over it, it is one you make when you are short of time.

After you’ve sent the recipe to the person in position 1 below and only to that person, copy this letter into a new email, move my name to position 1 and put your name in position 2. Only mine and your name should show when you send your email. Send to 20 friends BCC (blind copy).

If you cannot do this within five days, let me know so it will be fair to those participating.

You should receive 36 recipes. It’s fun to see where they come from! Seldom does anyone drop out because we all need new ideas. The turnaround is fast as there are only two names on the list and you only have to do it once.

Person 1:

Person 2:

Sounds easy enough. I wasn’t sure I would know twenty people but who would know how many women I sent the email off to? It seemed fun so I quickly emailed a recipe to Person 1, to whom I was assigned. (For the record, I shared this recipe from Buns in My Oven, as I had recently made it and the cookies tasted as good as they look.)

I heard from one or two people back right away that they wouldn’t be able to participate but since it was a chain email that was sent on to me in the first place, it wasn’t bothersome. I had no idea how many recipes I could expect.

The answer came the next morning.

I had received two emails back. One was from a woman who sent me some kind of chocolate cookie ball recipe (no name for it). The other….Well, let’s just call it an altogether Fail. Here’s what she wrote:

Hi, Sorry all I can think of in my head right now is “throwing together” a mix of sugar, butter, flour, egg whites and vanilla extract, “molding them together” into little balls on a cookie tray and then putting them in the oven. Sounds like how my grandmother made her cake. So they might be good cookies. Might even try them myself. Good luck!

Uhhhhhh.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or what. This isn’t even a recipe! “They might be good cookies.” Really? The only thing I can think of is that the woman felt compelled to forward something on (out of guilt?) but in fact, she should have felt more badly about sending on something that is completely unworkable. No amounts, no instructions, and perhaps, if I’m lucky, I’ll get something that resembles cookies.

Mind = blown.

When I told another girlfriend of mine about the response, since I had also forwarded the chain on to her, she told me that someone who was a friend of a friend had re-forwarded the chain email back to her instead of sending her a recipe. Apparently people weren’t grasping the concept very well, and also? They felt overly pressured to take the instructions literally and think of something in their head, as opposed to going to The Source of All Information, the interwebs, and finding a recipe by typing in “cookie recipe” in Google. That’s literally all one has to do.

(Don’t even get me started on the misuse of quotes. I felt like Joey from Friends was lurking nearby. If you haven’t seen that episode, definitely do.)

Days have passed and that is all I have received. I didn’t put a ton of effort or sentiment behind forwarding the chain so my feelings aren’t hurt that I’m not getting a lot of recipes back. It’s more that I’m astounded that that’s the best one can do on our Internet dependent, instant gratification planet. It’s not like I asked people to make up gift baskets with four different types of handmade cookies and deliver them door-to-door in a wagon.

All this talk of cookies and it being close to lunchtime makes me hungry. I think I’ll go “find something to eat.”

Minty the Candy Cane – Obsessed!

This is probably hitting the web in a far more professional fashion than I am posting here but a new phenomenon has taken over my household and he is called Minty the Candy Cane Who Fell on the Ground.

This comes from my beloved show Conan (because who else could come up with this?) and my boyfriend and I literally sang it in the car on the way to school and work the entire way.

If you don’t have time to watch Conan because you’re just too darn busy, the below clip is all you need to get hooked. Be forewarned: you may never get this song out of your head. Conan and Andy can’t!

Our favorite part is when Conan sings “for just a moment or two!” at the very end. That’s what I’ve been going around saying alllll daaaaay. Also, it’s like adding “in bed” to a Chinese fortune. You can tack it on to pretty much anything anybody says.

Person 1: I have to get some sleep.

Person 2: [singing] ….for just a moment or two!

It’s still up in the air whether the lyrics are “covered in poo” or “covered in goo,” but either way, it fits. It’s the new Christmas hit! Won’t you sing along with me?

for just a moment or two!

The Warning Signs it is Time to Clean Out the Car

I may or may not be speaking from current experience. But I’m pretty sure The Big Badass Universe is telling me (or yelling at me?) to clean out my car already. Note: I share my car with my other half so even though some of the fault lays at my feet, some of it does not. That is all.

And so, you know you need to clean out your car when:

Cans clink together every time you turn left or right.

You use your backseat as a personal ‘filing’ system for all those important papers.

You can find everything BUT the windshield scraper that normally finds a way to annoy you the other 9 months of the year you don’t need it.

You have to apologize for “that smell” before anybody rides in your car with you.

The dog blanket in the back, covered in fur, makes it look like the Abominable Snowman is homeless and sleeping in your car.

You have $23.74 in change in your would-be ashtray.

The inside door handles are all filled with candy wrappers (or old keys…).

There are ranch dressing packets on the floor, one of which has broken open and spilled onto the floor mat, and you can’t be bothered to clean it up right away.

Receipts, separate from “important papers,” fill every available empty space outside the change, wrappers, and used tissues.

Birds could make a four-family condominium from the refuse you keep in your Moving Dump.

This isn't my car but it FEELS this messy.